Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

October 16, 2014

North Beach Italian Heritage Parade & the Blue Angels in SF

Every year, good friends of ours celebrate Italian Heritage Day during Columbus Day weekend in North Beach, San Francisco....more specifically, from in front of Original Joe's restaurant and bar. This year I had the pleasure of joining in all the fun.  We couldn't have asked for a more spectacular day.  It was sunny, no fog, with temps close to the 90's.....yes, it was that warm.

The Italian Heritage Parade is the city's oldest civic event and the nation's oldest Italian-American parade and community celebration that works its way from Fisherman's Wharf to the quaint neighborhood of North Beach.  Every restaurant in the entire neighborhood of North Beach sets up outdoor, reserved seating, serving food, drinks and a front row view of the two hour + parade which begins at 12:30 p.m.

A family style lunch was served just after noon to our outdoor table at Original Joe's.  Oh so tender roasted chicken, flavorful beef, roasted potatoes, broccoli, ravioli, salad and plenty of vino.  What a spread!

Soon enough the parade made its way down past our table.

 A wide variety of parade entries kept us all entertained....from tossing candy and even a pizza to the parade viewers and diners.

The Italian Heritage Parade happens to coinside with  Fleet Week in San Francisco and this year, the Blue Angels were scheduled to fly once again.  I was fortunate enough to be able to watch the entire Blue Angel show from the roof-top of Saints Peter and Paul Church in North Beach...{thanks Randy!!!}

Fighter jets; so loud, fast and me chills every time.

We had a panoramic view of the bay and all North Beach from the roof top.  

Perfect for viewing some of our nation's top pilots.

I hope to make this weekend experience an annual tradition for myself.  If you're ever in the City or have thought about attending Fleet Week or the Italian Heritage Parade, I highly recommend it!

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October 14, 2014

Hearty Fall Salad

It's finally feeling like fall here in northern California.  Rain projected to occur within the next few hours!  Such an turn around from last week's high temps of the 90's.  This salad recipe courtesy Bon Appetit just looks like "fall" to me.  From the charred broccoli to the white beans....if a salad can be classified as "hearty", this is the one.

The recipe calls for soaking your own beans overnight but I will modify by using canned Cannellini beans instead.  I'm lazy sometimes.  I love the combination of broccoli and parmesean cheese.  Yum. However, I'm not a huge anchovy fan, so I may substitute my old standby of bacon.  I will also use rice wine vinegar as well....I love that sweet/tang flavor in every salad I toss.

Enjoy your fall!

Photo and recipe courtesy Bon Appetit

2 cups dried large white beans
(such as gigante or corona),
soaked overnight
3 ounces Parmesan with rind
1 onion, quartered
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
Kosher salt
1½ pound broccoli (about 3
small heads), coarsely chopped
½ cup olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
4 anchovy fillets packed in oil,
drained, finely chopped
2 wide strips lemon zest, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice

Drain beans and place in a large heavy pot. Remove rind from
Parmesan and add rind along with onion and garlic to beans. Pour in
water to cover by 2”; season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat,
and simmer, adding water as needed to keep beans submerged, until
beans are tender, about 2 hours. Let cool. Discard vegetables and
Parmesan rind, then drain.

Preheat oven to 450°. Toss broccoli with ¼ cup oil on a rimmed
baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing
occasionally, until tender and lightly charred, 15–20 minutes. Let

Finely chop half of broccoli and toss in a large bowl with anchovies,
lemon zest, lemon juice, and beans. Shave half of Parmesan over and
add remaining broccoli and ¼ cup oil; toss and season with salt,
pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Shave remaining Parmesan

DO AHEAD: Beans can be cooked 5 days ahead; cover and chill in
cooking liquid. Warm before serving. Broccoli can be roasted 6 hours
ahead; store tightly wrapped at room temperature

Calories (kcal) 260 Fat (g) 11
Saturated Fat (g) 2.5
Cholesterol (mg) 5
Carbohydrates (g) 28 Dietary
Fiber (g) 8 Total Sugars (g) 1
Protein (g) 13 Sodium (mg) 170
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October 9, 2014

Guacamole Withdrawals

Two weeks ago I took a trip to Puerto Vallarta with five girlfriends.  I ate chips and guacamole every day for lunch.  That's it, just chips and guacamole, poolside, every day for three days.  Ever since returning home, I've been going through some major guacamole withdrawals so I've been trying to wean myself off of it, slowly....for the sake of my yoga pants.

Well, I haven't had guacamole now in  about four days but knowing we are having fish tacos tonight for dinner, I decided to prepare a batch of 10:30 am.

I hope it survives until dinner time.

I used to buy pre-made guacamole as we have many varieties available here, in California, until my friend, Heather, turned me on to a super delicious and extremely easy way to whip up a batch in no time flat.

All you need is guacamole seasoning package, I use McCormick's, and two California avocados.  I normally add some lime juice and some chopped red onion to taste as well.

Slice two avocados, add the contents of the guacamole seasoning packet and mix.  Squeeze in some lime juice and chopped red onion and or chopped tomatoes, if desired.

Refrigerate and eat for lunch.....I mean with your fish tacos or anything your tummy desires, for dinner.


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October 7, 2014

Bacon Cheeseburger Bombs!

It's MLB playoff time which means games almost every night of the week.  Exciting games!  Hoping for a win tonight for my fave...the SF Giants with these Pillsbury Bacon Cheeseburger BOMBS!.....oh, and some wine.  Enjoy!

Recipe and photo courtesy of Pillsbury

Bacon Cheeseburger Bombs


can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Flaky Layers refrigerated original or buttermilk biscuits
lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef, cooked or 16 frozen (thawed) cooked meatballs
block (8 oz) Cheddar cheese, cut into 16 cubes
slices bacon
Long toothpicks or skewers
Canola oil for frying
  • 1.  Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Cut each biscuit in half; press with hands into circle about 3 inches in diameter.
  • 2.  In center of each biscuit round, place 2 tablespoons cooked ground beef (or 1 meatball) and 1 cube of cheese. Wrap dough to completely enclose beef and cheese; pinch seams to seal.
  • 3.  For the Fried Version: Wrap each stuffed “bomb” with 1 bacon slice; gently secure loose bacon with toothpick by inserting it through bacon and halfway into “bomb.” In 3-quart heavy saucepan or deep fryer, heat oil to 350°F. Fry stuffed “bombs” 4 to 5 minutes or until dough is golden brown on all sides. Place on paper towels to cool. Repeat with remaining "bombs". Serve warm with ketchup and mustard, if desired.
  • 4.  For the Baked Version: Heat oven to 400°F. Place bacon on foil-lined cookie sheet with sides. Bake about 8 minutes to partially cook bacon. Wrap each stuffed “bomb” with 1 slice partially cooked bacon slice. Place bacon wrapped dough 2-inches apart on two foil-lined cookie sheets with dough seam side down. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with ketchup and mustard, if desired.
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    September 30, 2014

    Cooking With Local Produce from Safeway

    "Buying Local" means different things to different people.  To me, it means anything that is grown in our sunny state of California.  Just recently, Safeway delivered a farm basket full of locally grown fruits and veggies as a gift.  It was like Christmas in September!  

    A new survey by Harris Interactive found that only 30% of Americans incorporate local produce in their meals daily.  I'm a Safeway shopper, always have been and I like that Safeway makes it a little easier for us to support our local farmers.

    Before I had a chance to bake the pear crisp I had in store for the gorgeous red pears grown at Scotts Valley Ranch in Lakeport, CA, my kids devoured them as an after school snack.  Not to worry, pear crisp recipe coming soon.  

    The heirloom tomatoes were so beautiful and very sweet.  I bought some mozzarella, sliced it along with the tomatoes and arranged the slices on a plate as a light and fresh side for dinner one night.

    After arranging the slices on a platter, I combined balsamic vinegar and olive oil, sea salt and pepper and drizzled it over the top.  Once drizzled, I dropped some baby basil leaves on top and ground some more fresh pepper over the dish and then drizzled more balsamic and olive oil dressing.

    The tomatoes are from Capay Organics out of West Sacramento, CA.

    According to Wikipedia, the eggplant fruit is botanically classified as a berry and contains numerous small, soft seeds which are edible, but have a bitter taste because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids (being a relative of tobacco).  Many recipes advise salting, rinsing and draining of the sliced fruit (known as "degorging"), to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness.

    Eggplants found at my local Safeway are from Valhalla Produce with the eggplant being grown in Kingsburg, CA.

    I cubed the eggplant along with the green bell pepper to add to some cubed chicken for our Moroccan dinner of Spiced Lemon Chicken.

     I cubed the chicken, rolled it in Italian Style breadcrumbs and browned it in a skillet with olive oil.

    I then added all the cubed eggplant and peppers and added a Moroccan Lemon Spiced pre-made simmer sauce, which I also found at Safeway and wanted to try.

    Fruit, veggies and meat all in one dish. 

     My favorite type of dinner.  Easy and nutritious.

    Click here to read about the Safeway Farm Field Trip I experienced last summer, where I met and learned all about the Perry family and their family farm who provides Safeway with the many seedless watermelons and pumpkins throughout the year.

    Special thanks to Safeway for providing the basket of local fruits and vegetables and for also providing a $50 gift card to purchase additional ingredients to complete my meals above.  Though fruits and vegetables were provided complimentary, I was not monetarily compensated for this post or any other Safeway related post I've written.  All opinions above are my own.

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    September 29, 2014

    Happy National Coffee Day! Cafe con Tequila

    You may have began your day, like I did, with a Pumpkin Spiced Latte for National Coffee Day and now you can end it with a CafĂ© con Tequila to warm your insides.  

    What's your favorite coffee drink??

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    September 18, 2014

    The Very Swanky Kathryn Hall Release Party

    Eleven years ago, last Saturday, September 13th, it was a scorching 104 degrees at Dominic's and my outdoor wedding.  Fast forward to 2014, it wasn't quite that hot, but the 90's and we enjoyed every minute of both days.  This past Saturday we happily spent the afternoon of our wedding anniversary at the Kathryn Hall Release Party at Hall Wines in St. Helena.

    They certainly know how to throw a party.

    From grape stomping... hanging out and sipping wine on these totally swanky inflatable love seats they had placed along the vast lawn area.

    With the temperature being so warm, shade was a high priority.

    Along with the wine and water, Colorescience powdered sunscreen was passed out to guests to help protect us from the UVA/UVB rays shining down on us.

    Small bites were plentiful and these duck bites were a favorite of mine.... absolutely delicious...

    We tasted more than a few bites in between sips...these tuna and cucumber rolls paired well with the Kathryn Hall Cab.

    Mini pizzas are always a hit with me...

    And then some refreshing chilled carrot soup hit the spot......

     ....before retreating to more shade.....

    Before we headed out to our next destination we spent a little time in the barrel room within the circa 1895 barn.  Wonderfully refreshing and I SO want to host a party in this gorgeous barn! ....One day.

    Thank you for the invitation, Hall Wines, to spend the afternoon sipping, tasting, eating and dancing with you!

    To view some really fun party pics, check out the Hall Wines Flicker album!
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