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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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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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October 24, 2013

Gluten-Free Halloween Treats

Are you looking for some fresh ideas on Gluten-free Halloween treats?  Here are a few ideas for you...


BRAINS         (15 macaroons)

These are delicious—and they really look like brains!

3 egg whites
1 cup raw sugar (coconut or demerara sugar), pulverized
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ½ cups dry unsweetened coconut flakes
(for decorating)
8 ounces (240 grams) good quality chocolate
2 ounces (60 grams) Royal Icing
red food coloring
icing piping bag with #2 and #3 tips

Preheat the oven to 325F (162C).
Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
Add the sugar and vanilla and beat to combine well.
Carefully fold the coconut flakes into the egg mixture.
Using a tablespoon, drop the batter onto the lined baking tray, making sure that each cookie has an oval shape.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes.
Let the cookies cool completely before decorating.

To Decorate

When the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate in a bowl, over simmering water.

Using the back of a knife, draw a line down the center of each cookie. (Make sure you don’t cut all the way through the cookie to the bottom.)

Color the Royal Icing a deep red, put it into the piping bag, and, using the #3 tip, draw a red line in the indention at the cookie’s center.

Now, put the thinner (#2) tip on the piping bag and replace the icing with the melted chocolate. Trace little squiggles across the top of the cookie to replicate the brain.

Once the cookies are dry, they’re ready to eat!

ROYAL ICING (covers 6 – 8 cookies)

As we’ve said, most of the cookies in this book are decorated with Royal Icing.
You can also purchase prepared Royal Icing powder and add water, but it isn’t that difficult to make the icing from scratch.

If you have concerns about eating raw egg, then you should use pasteurized egg white for this icing, as it isn’t cooked.

1 large egg white (could be pasteurized)
1½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg white for a few seconds before adding the sugar and half of the lemon juice. The icing’s consistency should be smooth and heavy cream-like. Add the remaining lemon juice (and more if you feel it’s needed) one drop at a time. You may also add more sugar to suit your liking.
Just a few drops of liquid, more or less, will alter the icing’s consistency.

We recommend a thicker icing for outlining the cookie, and thinner icing for filling out the inside.

8-12 cupcakes

Wicked Witch is our theme for these cupcakes, which we deck out in three distinct forms: the witch’s legs, her hat, and her broom.

1 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/3 cup raw coconut oil or softened butter
½ cup raw sugar (coconut or demerara sugar)
2 table spoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs or 3 medium eggs
1 ½  cups raw, grated fresh carrots
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
(for decoration)
Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe below)
thin-bladed knife
For fondant other materials needed, see each set of decorating instructions.

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake cases.
Sieve the flours, baking soda, salt, and spices into a bowl; mix; and set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat the oil or butter, sweeteners, lemon juice, orange juice, and vanilla until the mixture is light and creamy.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in batches, alternating with the eggs.
Stir in the carrots and nuts. Mix well.
Pour the batter into the cupcake cases, filling each ¾ full.
Bake 15 – 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup butter, softened (1/2 stick)
6 ounces (170 grams) cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until the mixture is silky. Add the sugar and vanilla, and continue beating. Don’t stop until frosting is perfectly smooth.

To Decorate
Once the cupcakes are cool, frost them. The decorating instructions below cover 4 cupcakes for each of the variations, but if you make your cupcakes big, you may have only 8 to decorate. Then you’ll have to decide.

For the Witches’ Brooms, you need to assemble these materials:
2 ounces (60 grams) brown fondant
4 ounces (120 grams) orange fondant
4 lollipop sticks

Begin making the brooms by dividing the brown fondant into 4 pieces with a little left over. Roll and smooth one of these pieces of brown fondant around a lollipop stick. Divide the orange fondant into four pieces, roll one of them out in a thin rectangle. With a knife, cut strips to about a ½ inch from the edge of the rectangle.

Wrap the orange fondant “brush” around the covered stick and—like magic!—it’s a broom. Wrap a little strip of brown fondant around the base of the broom for detail.

For the Witches’ Hats, you will need to have on hand
5 ounces (150 grams) black fondant
2 ounces (60 grams) orange fondant

Divide the black fondant into 6 pieces, and then shape one of these into a circle and another into a cone. Cut the cone in half and place at the center of the circle. Fold the circle in half. Use the marzipan to add a band around the base of the hat.

Keep a few strips of the orange fondant you used for the broom. Use these on the cupcake as the witches’ hair.

For the Witches’ Legs, to decorate 4 cupcakes, you will need
8 lollipop sticks
2 ounces (60 grams) orange fondant
2 ounces (60 grams) purple fondant
4 ounces (120 grams) black fondant
purple sugar glitter

Roll two long, thin strips in two different colors. If you like, you can add sugar glitter for extra magic.

Wrap the strips tightly around the lollipop sticks. Now you’ve got the legs in their stockings.

Shape the boots with black fondant and put them on the ends of the 4 sticks, Wet the boots a little and sprinkle on the glitter for some added va va voom!

The Barrios family has published the first gluten-free dessert book using all natural ingredients: SPOOKtacular Gluten-Free Halloween Desserts. The book has been well received and has debuted at #3 for Halloween cookbooks on Amazon.

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October 22, 2013

Al Pastor Pork Mexican Hash

I am a huge lover of hash.  For breakfast or dinner, it's a one-dish meal in my house any time of the year.

I had the chance, just recently, to try out Marcela Valladolid's new "Real Taste of Mexico"  line of food available at Safeway.  Marcela Valladolid is the host of the Food Network show, Mexican Made Easy.  I love flavorful Mexican food and easy to prepare is always a bonus in my busy household, especially on a school night.

As soon as I got my hands on this Al Pastor Pork, marinated and seasoned ready to cook package, I knew it would be PERFECT for a Mexican Hash dish that I could easily whip up on a weeknight for dinner.

I sliced open the package and pulled apart the thinly sliced Al Pastor pork and laid it in an oiled skillet, stove top.  Eight minutes later, I had perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned Al Pastor pork.  SO easy.

I set aside the Al Pastor pork and got busy preparing the rest of the dish.  Par-boiled {or microwaved} Yukon Gold potatoes.  Chopped parsley, green onion, yellow and orange bell pepper and I poached two eggs. {full printable recipe below}

The seasoning of the Al Pastor pork paired very well with the Yukon Gold potatoes, onions and peppers and  was delightful!

Al Pastor Pork Mexican Hash

1 Marcela Valladolid Al Pastor Pork ready to cook package {Safeway}
4 Yukon Gold potatoes
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 of a yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 T butter
1/2 tsp Kosher salt 
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 poached eggs

Grill the Al Pastor pork or cook in an oiled skillet, stove top for about 8 minutes.  Set aside.  Par-boil or microwave 4 Yukon gold potatoes until half-way cooked {about 6 minutes in the microwave}.  Slice the potatoes into thin slices.  Add butter to a skillet, add potatoes, salt and pepper.  Cook on medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes.  Add in the bell pepper, green onions, 3/4 of the parsley and cook for another 7 or so minutes or until potatoes begin to brown nicely.  Add the shredded cheese, stir until melted.

Slice the Al Pastor pork and add to the mixture.  Remove from heat.  Finish by adding the two poached eggs and top with the remaining parsley.

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October 16, 2013

Chiptole Bacon Potato Cakes made with Leftover Mashed Potatoes

With the holidays quickly approaching, thoughts turn to food, holiday dishes and lets face it, for me, creamy mashed potatoes.  I usually over estimate on the amount of food to prepare for the holidays and usually end up with a pile of leftover mashed potatoes.  Ever wonder what to do with them?  Well, as promised, here is my first recipe using Idaho Gold potatoes inspired after my recent tour of the Idaho Harvest.......  

Chiptole Bacon Potato Cakes made with leftover Idaho Gold mashed potatoes.

Friday night we barbecued Rib Eye steak so I decided to make more than enough Idaho Gold mashed potatoes as one of the sides.....more than enough because I wanted to make sure I had enough to make the Chipotle Bacon Potato Cakes the next day......for breakfast.

I fried 3 slices of bacon, drained and chopped them, reserving the bacon drippings in the skillet.

Place leftover mashed potatoes in a mixing bowl and add eggs, bacon, Chiptole powder, salt, pepper, cheddar cheese and mix well.....I used my hands.  {full printable recipe below}

Form the mixture into patties smaller than the size of the palm of your hand.  Brown for about 4 minutes per side in the reserved bacon drippings.

Serve as a replacement to home fries or hash browns for breakfast, as a snack or as a side with dinner.

If you find the flavor of Chipotle to be too spicy, use onion or garlic powder instead.

Chipotle Bacon Potato Cakes

4 cups of cold leftover mashed potatoes
3 slices of bacon, fried
2 eggs
1 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder {found in the spice section}
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated

Fry bacon in skillet, until browned.  Remove the bacon slices and reserve the bacon drippings in skillet. Chop bacon.  Mix the mashed potatoes, eggs, salt, pepper, Chipotle powder, bacon and Cheddar cheese in mixing bowl.  I used my hands, much like mixing meatloaf.  Form the mixture into small patties...slightly smaller than the size of the palm of your hand, heat the patties in the bacon drippings until crisp over medium heat....about 4 minutes per side.

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October 14, 2013

Idaho Potato Harvest

Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes.  Idaho potatoes.  That was the topic of conversation, mostly, on my recent trip to Idaho.  I was invited by the Idaho Potato Commission, along with nine other bloggers to learn all we could about the harvesting of potatoes and to eat too many fantastic potato dishes to even remember.

There were five of us from California.  Our first evening get together was spent at James Hoff's home and farm, where we were wined and dined with some awesome creamy potato creations and juicy tri-tip and chicken.

James Hoff gave us a tour of the farm, here he stands in the 50 degree "Cellar" where the potatoes are stored to "sweat" for three weeks after harvesting and before packaging begins.   There was a storm brewing  in the atmosphere and it was quite chilly that night as we learned that Idaho is prime for growing potatoes, with its warm days and cool nights.

The next day we were driven to Lynn Wilcox's potato farm to witness the harvest firsthand and dig up some spuds if we were so inclined..

Potatoes are all harvested by a Harvester in this day and age, not by hand like many years ago.

Here in California, many of the schools take a week off in February for "Ski Week".  Not so in Idaho.  The schools are off for a week in October for "Harvest Week" where many of the kids work the farms to help with the harvest for the entire week.

I think they're on to something here...

When you have two fantastic chefs traveling with you, you eat well.  Very well.  Here Chef Todd Downs and Chef Adam Moore, both of Charlie Baggs Inc., prepared a plethora of potato dishes for us to sample in the test kitchen at Idahoan Foods...{recipes coming soon}.

On our final night in Idaho, we headed up to the majestic Teton Springs Lodge and Spa in Victor, ID, where we stayed in amazing log cabins, met some more amazing chefs, Chef Rick Sordahl and his wife, Dana Sordahl, who prepared quite the spread for us....

After we loaded up on the amazing feast and tried some Idaho wines, we set off for a sunset horseback ride at Linn Canyon Ranch.

After the ride, we finished out our Idaho Harvest experience with dinner and later, a bonfire, at Linn Canyon Ranch.

After eating everything from a sweet and creamy potato cheese cake, to savory potato pierogie and even a gluten free potato pizza, I have a re-newed love for the many creations that can be made with the varieties of Idaho Potatoes!  I will be sharing many of the recipes, upcoming here on the blog.  I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

Stay tuned.....Recipe for my Idaho Chipotle Bacon Cakes up next!....Great for using up those leftover mashed potatoes.

Many thanks to the Idaho Potato Commission for inviting and hosting me for this fabulous educational trip.

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