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

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December 30, 2013

New Year's SOL REPUBLIC Wireless Speaker Giveaway

Happy almost New Year's!  Are you looking at wireless speakers to spend all that Christmas cash on? Well, you may not need to if you win this SOL REPUBLIC giveaway I'm hosting for an awesome wireless speaker. Your device can connect via Bluetooth OR your old school ipod {like mine} can connect via wire to send you well on your way to listening to all your favorite tunes wherever you choose to take it....maybe on a bike ride, at the pool on vacation, working in the garage or if you're like me, in your kitchen.

I am loving the SOL REPUBLIC wireless speaker, the "DECK"   which is done in collaboration with Motorola and was newly released this fall. It holds a charge for a good eight hours or so, has up to 300 foot wireless range and has so many amazing features that are distinct to the product including Heist Mode, the feature that allows for up to 5 people to pair real-time to the device, a dedicated bass chamber (that bumps!) with the option to shift into outdoor mode to raise mids/highs, when needed and a range that is 2x most of the competition. Great for a gift guide list that is $200 and under.

All you need to do to enter is leave a comment in the comment section below!  {if you subscribe by email, you must go to the blog address to leave a comment.... }
U.S. residents only.

Good luck to you!!!

To read more on SOL REPUBLIC wireless speaker, click here >

A winner will be selected by on January 8th!

SOL REPUBLIC did provide me with this product to review but the thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

UPDATE:  1-8-14
Congratulations, Danesha!   You were chosen by and have won the wireless speaker!!

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December 23, 2013

Peanut Butter & Banana Protein Muffins

For those who are thinking ahead to New Year's and healthier eating, here's a recipe that came to me via Angeles Burke, that I think would be perfect for a post workout snack.  Loaded with protein, low in calories and fat and looking pretty tasty.

Enter the Easy Recipe Challenge for a chance to WIN $200!

Peanut Butter and Banana Protein Muffins
2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
1 Medium Banana Mashed
¼ Cup Oatmeal (Uncooked)
1 Whole Egg
½ Cup Egg Whites
1 Scoop Vanilla Protein
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
Dried Banana Chips

Peanut Butter and Banana Protein Muffin Cooking Instructions
Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, hand- mix all ingredients together except the banana chips. Place muffin liners in each holder of a 12 count muffin tray and then spray a light coat of a non stick cooking spray. Evenly disperse all of the mixture into the muffin liners and top each uncooked muffin with a few dried banana chips. Place tray in the center rack of the oven and allow to cook for 12 min. The tops of the banana chips should be golden brown when they are about done. Leave in longer if muffin is not thoroughly cooked.
Nutritional Facts
Yields 6 Peanut Butter and Banana Protein Muffins
Calories- 106 Per Protein Muffin
3.8 g Fat -8 g Carbs- 10.3 g Protein
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December 17, 2013

Gluten Free Holiday Baking Tips

With so many going or needing to go gluten free these days, I wanted to share some gluten free baking tips I recieved via Kyra Bussanich, (, three-time winner of The Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and author of a just-released recipe book,Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle.  She offers some great gluten free holiday baking tips to share with us this holiday season.

• If you’re following a recipe, don’t substitute the listed flour or starch with another type unless you’re familiar with its properties.There are many different types of gluten-free flours and starches, including millet, sorghum and sweet white rice flour, and potato and tapioca starches. Each has its own idiosyncrasies. For example, millet flour has a slightly nutty flavor and is well-suited for goods with a hearty texture. Sweet white rice flour holds moisture well and is good for recipes that have a slight gumminess to them. Potato starch is light and good for fluffy cakes. 
• Use eggs and butter at room temperature. Eggs are often used as a binder, the protein that substitutes for the missing gluten. Eggs and butter are both easier to work with when used at room temperature, and room-temperature egg whites whip up fluffier. If you forget to pull the butter out of the refrigerator beforehand, heat it for 7 to 12 seconds in the microwave. Put cold eggs in warm (not hot) water for 30 to 60 seconds. 
• Don’t overwork batter and dough with xanthan gum in it. Corn-based xanthan gum is often used as a stabilizer and thickener in gluten-free baked goods, sauces, dressings and soups. Once this ingredient is added, overworking the dough can give it a slimy, gummy texture, and cause it to lose flavor. (A good substitute for xanthan gum is ground psyllium seed husk.) 
• Heat higher, cream longer for lighter cakes. One complaint people sometimes have about gluten-free baked goods is that they’re too dense. To prevent this, try setting the oven temperature 25 degrees warmer than you would for flour. This will cause the butter in the recipe to release its water as steam, which helps the cake rise quickly. Also, cream eggs and butter together longer – about 10 minutes – than you would for flour cakes.

About Kyra Bussanich: Kyra Bussanich is a three-time winner of The Food Network’s hit show, “Cupcake Wars.” She graduated with honors from Le Cordon Bleu and opened her award-winning bakery, Kyra's Bake Shop, which features gourmet, gluten-free sweets. She has branched beyond desserts to other gluten-free goods in order to help those with celiac and other autoimmune diseases enjoy quality treats

Photo credit: Kyra Bussanich
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December 9, 2013

Drunken Meatballs

Drunken no, I'm not talking about family members, but in the heat of the holiday party season, tasty, easy and simple party recipes are in high demand at my house.  Here's one I could not pass up!  Drunken Meatballs.

This easy holiday recipe is from the Quick Meal Queen, Natashja Szortyka.  Quick and easy.  Your guests will LOVE them!

Drunken Meatballs
38.4 oz. bag Mama Lucia
     Mini-Size Meatballs
1 c. ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup whiskey

Put all four ingredients in a slow cooker and heat on low for 4 to 6 hours or high for 2 to 3 hours.
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December 3, 2013

Top 10 Christmas Cookie Recipes

I don't really consider myself a 'baker', I'm more of a cook....I think the reason why is that you must be SO precise with the measurements when it comes to baking and with cooking you can throw a dash of this in or a pinch of that.  That's how I like to cook, anyway.

For Christmas baking it must be easy to put together and pretty much fool proof for me to try.

Here are a few favorites....

Krusteaz Molten Deep Dish Cookies.....for those of you, like myself, that like the box variety...these are so good and new to the market.

Salted Caramel die for.

NO BAKE Melting Snowmen much fun to make!

Chocolate Marshmallow Cloud Cookies....I didn't mess these up, pretty easy to

My friend, Kristi's family recipe for Peanut Brittle.  I haven't made this one myself but Kristi claims it's easy to make and I can attest to how fabulous it tastes.

A Grossi family favorite...Seven Layer Cookie.  Create your own layers according to your taste....white chocolate?  Butterscotch?  Milk chocolate?....whatever you desire.

Another easy one.  This one by Midwest Living... Oreo Truffles.

And the final three are all from a Cookie Exchange party I attended last year....loved every single one!
Coconut Macaroons
Grandpa's Cookies
Spice Cookies


For those of you local to the area, come down to Finnegan's Marin the evening of Friday December 6th. We are conducting a Toy Drive to benefit UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital and I'll be Guest Bartending with a friend of mine beginning at 7 PM.  It should be a fun party!  Finnegan's has a full menu and bar for those who would like to eat and drink that night as well.  I hope to see some of you there!!

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November 27, 2013

Brussels Sprout Potato Hash - Gluten Free

I have always been a huge fan of any type of hash and have always loved Brussels Sprouts with bacon...Brussels Sprout Hash is pretty darn good, I must say.  After my Idaho Potato Harvest trip, I've really been inspired to incorporate potatoes into more of my cooking.  Not only are they tasty, they are a healthful low calorie, high fiber food that is a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, potassium, and manganese as well.  Win win and gluten free as well.

If you're looking for a new potato recipe for Thanksgiving, or if you have leftover roasted potatoes from Thanksgiving, they would incorporate perfectly into this Brussels Sprout Hash.

Brussels Sprout Potato Hash

4 potatoes {I used Yukon Gold}, chopped into chunks
3 slices of thick cut bacon, chopped into chunks
2 pounds of Brussels Sprouts, ends cut off and halved
1 large shallot {or half small onion}, chopped
olive oil
Kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Heat a few Tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, add the bacon and all the other ingredients, salt and pepper to taste and saute until caramelized and browned and until potatoes are cooked through.

Tips:  You can use already roasted potatoes.  Just chop into chunks and add to the skillet.
If I have any leftover Brussels Sprout hash the next day, I will add it as a salad topper for lunch.  Really good!
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November 25, 2013

Portuguese Wine Tasting

For the last 10 weeks I've been attending Portuguese language classes at the Sausalito Portuguese Hall on Sunday evenings with my younger sister, Lisa.  My Dad is Portuguese and my Mom was born and raised in Brazil, so growing up, the Portuguese language was spoken predominately in our home.  My parents spoke it to us {and still do} and we spoke back to them in English.  We were never forced to speak Portuguese but now wish we were.  I think learning to speak Portuguese, or any foreign language, as a child comes much more easily than learning to speak as an adult.

Last night was our last class of the 10 week long session.  It was a Portuguese party, held at a fellow class member's home with plenty of food, pot luck style and Portuguese wine and Port tasting as well.  I'm sure you can guess what my contribution was....yes, my favorite cheese of all time, Portuguese St. George cheese with fig spread and crusty bread.  

It was very interesting learning the origin of Portuguese wine from Eugenio Jardin and Porto {Port} from Nelson Ascenso along with the different regions of wine growing in Portugal.  My next trip to Portugal will need to include a tour of the Douro Valley, near the border of Spain in mainland Portugal, where Port and many other wines are grown.

Port is typically drank as a dessert wine.  It's very strong, sweet and it's made by mixing wine with brandy bringing the alcohol content up to around 20%.  My friend, Vasco, gave us the fantastic idea of mixing a bit in with your morning coffee.  Perfect for a snow trip I think.

My favorite Porto of the night was the Niepoort 10 Tawny, blended with different wines averaging 10 years. Just like regular wine, Ports come in dry, sweet, rosso, white and many different varieties.

All in all, it was a fantastic end to a fabulous class.  And I really think drinking Portuguese wine helps me to become a better Portuguese least it did last night.

Are you a fan of drinking Port?  If so, what's your favorite?

If you're local and interested in taking Portuguese language lessons, classes at the Sausalito Portuguese Hall are held in the Spring and the Fall.
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November 21, 2013

Favorite Fall Dessert Recipe Round-Up

I love this time of year!  All the fabulous dessert recipes for fall, I can't get enough.  When I called upon my fellow Real Farmwives of America for some of their favorite fall recipes, I hit the jackpot.

Jent, author of From My Front Porch, sent me her Phenomenal Apple Cookie recipe...

"This Pumpkin Crunch, aka Pumpkin Dump Cake, is an easy recipe that takes 5 minutes to make. Every pumpkin lover will beg you for the recipe."  says Leah, from the fabulous food and farm blog, Beyer Beware.

Another favorite of Leah's are these mouth watering Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies with brown sugar icing.  I die.

My friend, Cris, from the blog, Recipes That Crock sent me a favorite that I certainly enjoy... Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter...

and Crock Pot Caramel Dip.  Hello!

And Amy from A Latte' with Ott, A, is totally making me crave pie right now with her Gingersnap Apple Crumb Pie....

And one of my favorites that I have made time and time again....Salted Caramel Cookies.  The combination of sweet with the salt, I can devour the entire plate all on my own if I let myself.

Time to start baking.

Salted Caramel Cookies

Ingredients for cookies:
1 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
1/8 tsp Kosher salt

Ingredients for caramel:
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
2 1/2 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Kosher salt for sprinkling

Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter, sugar and egg.  Add the vanilla.  Separately sift together the flour and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, add the four mixture to the creamed mixture.  Mix just until the dough comes together.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Scoop level tablespoons of dough and roll into balls.  Place on a silpat or parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Hold the cookie steady with one hand and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger or thumb.....the larger the indentation, the more caramel it will hold!  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until they're barely golden on the sides.  Remove from the oven and immediately re-press your thumbprints if they've faded.  While the cookies are cooling, make the caramel.

Combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a medium saucepan.  Do not stir.  Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel color, swirling as it begins to brown and distribute the sugar.  While the sugar and water are boiling, heat up the cream in a saucepan or microwave just until warm.

Take the caramel off the heat and add your room temperature butter.  Whisk the butter in, until completely combined.  Add the warmed cream and whisk vigorously.  Mixture will bubble, then settle to a smooth, velvety caramel.

Use a teaspoon to pour caramel onto cooled cookies and sprinkle with Kosher salt.

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November 20, 2013

St. George Cheese to Party with

I'm not sure if it's just in my blood / genetic, or just my love for a semi-hard, buttery cheese made from unpasteurized cow's milk that draws me to my favorite cheese {to date} of all time....St. George Cheese. My Dad is from Portugal, Sao Jorge Island in the Azores to be precise, so our family has grown up eating this cheese probably from the time we could walk, on up.  It's eaten for breakfast, lunch and sometimes set out at dinner time as well in the Portuguese tradition.

Lucky for me, Joe Matos Cheese Factory is located just a few towns to the north of us, in Sebastopol.  We grew up going to Portuguese Festas with the Matos family and they've run a family dairy and made St. George cheese for as long as I can remember.  Yesterday, I picked up my Mom and Dad and headed over for a cheese purchasing trip.

If you decide to take a field trip to Matos' Cheese Factory yourself, don't let the exterior of the farm scare you away.  Driving up the lane, deciphering the barely readable signage, past the herd of Holstein and Jersey cows, the farm itself looks as though it hasn't been touched in 50 years.  Once you arrive at the small store front, upon opening the door a buzzer sounds alerting the employee someone has arrived.  You are then able to taste some cheese and purchase cheese by the pound.

I went for the entire round.  Eight pounds.

An eight pound round should last me through the holiday season, I'm hoping.  Sunday I'll be attending my end of class party for Portuguese language class.  The party will happen at a fellow class member's home in Tiburon and I thought what better to bring than a hunk of St. George cheese to go along with Portuguese wine and port tasting as well as some Brazilian Cheese Bread goodies I will attempt to make.

So, if we happen to run into each other at the same holiday party this season, you'll know what I'll be bringing....
pão e queijo
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November 14, 2013

TJ's Pumpkin Shopping Spree

I went a little hog wild at Trader Joe's the other day.  I really couldn't help myself with all the pumpkin products they have readily available, just begging to be picked up and placed in the shopping cart.  I originally went in for the Pumpkin Granola but happily wound up with the pumpkin muffin mix, pumpkin crackers, pumpkin chai tea and the adorable mini pumpkins......I held myself back from the pumpkin ale...this time.

Many times I'll bake pumpkin chocolate chip muffins from scratch, but this TJ's box mix is so dang good and ready to go, I just can't walk by it this time of year.  The kids {and I} love these things....addicted for sure.

Just follow the directions on the box and add as many chocolate chips as necessary.  

Are you 'all in' with the pumpkin craze?  What's your favorite??
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November 13, 2013

Rainbow Chefs Children Cooking Classes

I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a Rainbow Chefs children's cooking class in San Francisco.  The CEO of Rainbow Chefs is Lana Elgart.   Rainbow Chefs instructs kids and their families how to create colorful and healthy plates of food.   Lana's program engages kids and transforms them into young chefs with her interactive and visual cooking techniques. 

Lana's inspiration for beginning Rainbow Chefs was wanting to make a difference in the lives of as many kids/families as possible by helping lead a healthy lifestyle.  Knowing how much childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes are on the rise and how much our young generation is consuming processed foods, she decided that educating them in simple things like nutrition, meal planning, portion control, kitchen safety, healthy cooking, and manners/etiquette would really help them make the right choices in the future.  Having three children of her own, really makes her feel like it is imperative to help this generation to be on the right track.

The class I sat in on was held at a private school in San Francisco with Chef Scott Davis leading the class. He was fantastic with the group of five children, ages from between 1st to 5th grades.  His ability to keep the young kids under control, engaged and focused all at the same time in a very positive way, was awe-inspiring. 

It was close to Halloween so the no-bake recipe was Creepy Spider Macaroons.

The kids took turn measuring and mixing.

And finally, creating their very own Creepy Spider.

Rainbow Chefs has been in existence for about three years and their youngest class is Mommy and Me at the age of three.  Classes are scheduled for 60 minutes.  Rainbow Chefs also offer Birthday Party classes!  So cool!  The birthday party classes are approximately 2-3 hours.  How fun would it be to schedule a class for your child's b-day while the parents sip and nibble in another room?!!  Full or 1/2  day Camps are also available.  Kids need not have any prior experience in the kitchen to participate, it's open to everyone, including children with special needs and or dietary restrictions.

For more information or to book a class or party, visit the website.... Rainbow Chefs
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November 11, 2013

Easy Party Appetizer Recipe

I am constantly looking for party recipes to add to my file and not necessarily one made from scratch....I like to cheat a little if I can, just to make a party, or a "pre-party" in this case,  go as seamlessly as possible and without any stress.

I LOVE Artichoke Jalapeno Dip.  I also love pesto.  My neighbor, Bobby, grows a gigantic garden at his place and makes the BEST homemade pesto that I have ever had.  It's like a pesto concentrate where you can add some mayo and spread it on french bread and toast. 

Or, add it to your favorite store-bought Artichoke Jalapeno Dip, bake and devour. 

We had a pre-party cocktail hour at our house the other night and I tried adding this pesto concentrate to my favorite store bought Artichoke Jalapeno Dip.  Just mix together in a bowl, transfer to a baking dish and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or so.

I can eat the entire dish with a loaf of french good.

The dip was a hit and made for a good absorber prior to the birthday party we were to attend.

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November 5, 2013

Smoked Gouda Mac 'n Cheese

Two months ago I was invited to participate in the World Food Championships in Las Vegas.  It took me a few weeks to actually decide whether or not I wanted to participate, but once I finally accepted the invite, I got busy coming up with a flavorful Mac 'n Cheese recipe, which is one of the "builds" or recipes that is required to be cooked by the contestants in my category.

A few things have come up and I had to cancel my trip.  It's okay though.  Everything happens for a reason.
Now I have some great, easy mac 'n cheese recipes to share with you all and Dominic has a lot of down time with his broken ankle and is enjoying the mac 'n cheese creations with a beer or two.

I hadn't cooked mac 'n cheese from scratch up until this point and am pleasantly surprised at how ridiculously easy it is to do and what a punch of flavor it has compared to the box varieties.  

The Gouda Mac 'n Cheese is one of my favorites.  

Here's what you need for success...

Smoked Gouda Mac 'n Cheese

2 cups elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 T flour
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cream
1/2 stick butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup Panko crumbs

Boil macaroni in salted water according to package.  In a sauce pan, melt butter, flour, milk and cream for a few minutes.  Add the shredded cheese to the mixture to melt, reserving 1/2 cup for topping.  Once cheese is melted, remove from heat and add the drained macaroni and stir together.  Place mixture in a baking dish, sprinkle top with the combined remaining cheese and Panko crumbs.
Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, broil on high for last 3 minutes to brown the top.

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October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Hummus

This, by far, is my favorite time of year.  I am loving all the different recipes that are making their way into my in-box for the use of pumpkin!

Check out my latest and greatest pumpkin find from Bon Appetit....

Pumpkin Hummus!

Use a food processor to purée together canned pumpkin, tahini, garlic, parsley, ground cumin, olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds and smoked paprika on top. 

Serve with pita chips.


photo and recipe courtesy Bon Appetit

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