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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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February 27, 2015

20 Quick and Simple Kitchen Hacks!

Reviving stale cake with a hot water bath?    Flipping a fresh pineapple upside down to make it juicier?

Photo courtesy Google images

I received these 20 Quick and Simple Kitchen Hacks compiled by the team at Chef Works, the leading supplier of culinary apparel for professional chefs and home cooks alike!  Great tips!

1.      Use dental floss to slice cheesecake. The secret to slicing cheesecake perfectly can be found…in your medicine cabinet. Really! Hold the floss taut, as you would to floss your teeth, and gently, with a slight sawing motion, slice through the cake. Clean slices! For best results, use plain (unscented) floss.

2.      Spray or oil a measuring cup before measuring sticky ingredients to ensure easy release. Make sure you get all of the honey, molasses, or other sticky ingredient out of your measuring cup by spraying it with non-stick spray before measuring. It will ensure an easy release of sticky ingredients.

3.      Store avocado with a sprinkle of lemon juice to keep it from turning brown. It’s as easy as sprinkling lemon juice on top of exposed surfaces of avocado or avocado slices. It will keep them looking green and tasting fresh for far longer.

4.      Wrap the top of a bunch of bananas in plastic.    Seriously! Wrapping the top of a bunch of bananas with plastic will prolong their life by a few days, and will slow down the browning process.

5.      Run a knife under hot water for perfect bars, brownies, or cake slices. Run a knife under hot water, then dry using a kitchen towel or paper towel before slicing. The warmth of the knife will help it glide through the cake easily, for clean slices. Repeat, drying and cleaning off the knife between cuts.

6.      Make cookie dough in advance and freeze it. Most cookie dough containing butter can be made in advance and frozen. For drop cookies such as chocolate chip, you can pre-portion dough into circles. For slice and bake cookies, you can form dough into logs then slice and bake as desired.

7.      Combine herbs and oil or butter to make your own bouillon cubes. Start by combining butter or olive oil with enough herbs to form a thick paste. Form them into balls or cubes, wrap individually, and freeze or refrigerate. Voila–you have bouillon cubes ready to go when you are.

8.      Bring stale cake back to life by placing it in a steam bath. Place a slightly stale cake, either by the slice or whole, above a pan of simmering water. Let it steam for a couple of minutes, not so much as to melt the frosting, but to add moisture to the cake. Serve immediately after doing this.

9.      Freeze your broth in individual servings. If you’ve made homemade broth, separate it into common servings such as 1 or 2 cups, store in freezer bags marked with the amount or empty yogurt containers, and freeze. It will keep for months, and you’re ready to roll next time you want to make a soup.

10.  Flip natural peanut butter before you open it to help the oil incorporate. If you love the taste of natural peanut butter but don’t care for the messy mixing of the nut butter and separated oil, flip the jar for several hours or overnight. It minimizes the annoyance of stirring to combine, meaning less fuss and mess for you.

11.  Soften brown sugar with a slice of apple. Place a slice of apple in an airtight container with hardened brown sugar. Within hours it will soften the sugar. Once softened, use the sugar immediately.

12.  Use a plastic bag with the end cut off for easy piping of icing. No piping bags? Not a huge problem. You can use heavy-duty freezer bags instead. Simply fill with frosting, cut the tip of the bag off in whatever size you’d like to pipe, and get to work. It won’t be as fancy as if you have a fancy decorating tip, but it will do the job for simple piping work.

13.  Make your own confectioners’ sugar by grinding granulated sugar. You can make your own confectioners’ sugar at home with regular granulated sugar. Simply put granulated sugar in a blender, and blend for up to 30 seconds. It will grind the sugar into a super-fine, confectioners’ sugar consistency.

14.  Use a bottle opener to open jars. If you’ve got a tough jar to open, use a bottle opener. Use it to gently pop the seal on top, making it much easier to open.

15.  Combine vinegar and milk to make instant buttermilk. If you, like many, don’t use enough buttermilk to warrant buying an entire container, there’s an easy way to make it on command. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a measuring cup and then fill with milk until the mixture totals one cup. Wait until it curdles for an easy DIY solution. Using the same ratio, you can make any quantity.

16.  Store lettuce in paper towels. Storing fresh lettuce between paper towels will not only keep lettuce fresher far longer than just keeping it in the bag, but it will remain crisp and won’t get slimy.

17.    Microwave citrus fruits for 10 seconds before juicing to release the most juice. Lightly warming citrus will help it soften and release more juice. Microwaving it for 10 seconds will help you get more juice out of each and every lemon, lime, or orange.

18.  Store pineapples upside down. Store pineapples upside down for the best flavor: it helps the sweet juice which has sunk to the bottom of the fruit travel back up the fruit, making every single slice juicy and flavorful.

19.  Pour hot milk into the “empty” peanut butter or Nutella jar for a tasty drink. Don’t throw out that nearly empty jar! Those hard to reach bits can still be employed to make a delicious beverage. Simply add warm milk, shake or stir, and enjoy.

20.  Make your own yogurt by combining a few tablespoons of yogurt with cream or milk. Using the last few tablespoons of a container of yogurt as a “starter” you can combine it with a cup of cream or milk to create more yogurt. Use a bit of that yogurt as a starter for your next batch.
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February 11, 2015

What to do on Valentine's Day...

Is Valentine's Day a big deal for you and your honey?  Well, if you're trying to refresh some of your V-Day ideas, here are a few suggestions...

S.F. Ferry Building
If you're local to San Francisco, you might want to check out the 9th annual 'Food From the Heart' which kicks off on Friday night, February 13, in the candlelit Grand Nave.

Marketplace shops will all be open from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for Valentine shopping on Friday night. This event is free with nominal charges for food and drink. There will also dancing and classical music to serenade visitors, delicious hors d'oeuvres for $2-6 each, and Napa Valley vintners will pour wine for $4 per taste. Proceeds from purchases of wine and hors d'oeuvres will benefit Slow Food San Francisco's programs such as the School Garden Projects. Tickets will be available at the Ferry Building on Friday — the night of the event — at tables throughout the Marketplace.

Olive Garden

Olive Garden is making date night easy for couples. On Friday, February 20, the restaurant is celebrating “Parents’ Night Out” by picking up the tab on childcare at local participating My Gym locations while the parents enjoy a four-course meal at the restaurant.

Courtesy of Powell & Mahoney

Find the right cocktail......

For Lovers. You will instantly fall in love with the Passion Margarita. In a shaker, combine 1.5 oz. 100% blue agave blanco tequila1.5 oz. Powell & Mahoney Mango Passion Margarita, 0.5 oz. almond syrup, 2 dashes Angostura bitters and the juice of half a lime.

For guys. Celebrate your singlehood with your buddies with a batch of Spicy Snapper. Pour 4 oz. Powell & Mahoney's award-winning Sriracha Bloody Mary mix, ½ oz. fresh lemon juice and 1 ½ oz. gin in a shaker and gently shake.  Strain into a pint glass filled with ice and garnish with a lemon wedge and celery leaves.

For gals. What better way to celebrate than with the original girl's night cocktail: the Cosmopolitan? It's so much better to be pink than blue with the Cosmo Berry Spritz in hand! Mix 2 oz. Powell & Mahoney Cosmopolitan mix, 1 medium strawberry and 3 oz. dry white wine in a shaker. Muddle strawberry and gently shake. Strain all ingredients into a wine glass filled with ice and stop with a splash of soda and garnish with an orange wheel.

For the love curmudgeon. If you're just down on love for the time being and aren't puckering up for anyone this V-Day, feel free to express your bitterness with The Sour cocktail. Pour 1 ½ - 2 oz. spirit of choice and 1 oz. Powell & Mahoney Lemon Sour mixer into a shaker and gently shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Courtesy Carrington Farms

Berry Bliss Chocolate Bites! Created by leading organic health food company, Carrington Farms, this simple, no bake dessert is a sweet treat that will make any chocolate lovers mouth water. And, the best part is, this decadent treat gets its sweetness from real fruit, making it a healthier for you splurge. 

• 3 tbsp Hershey’s 100% unsweetened Cacao Powder
• 3-4 packets (less or more depending on you) Stevia in the raw
• 1/2 cup frozen berries (We suggest an antioxidant blend with strawberries, pitted cherries and pomegranate seeds by market pantry from Target)
• Silicone candy mold or mini baking cups

1. Mix the melted coconut oil with cacao powder and stevia.
2. Chop the frozen berries into smaller pieces and distribute among 9 baking cups.
3. pour 1 tbsp chocolate mix into each cup over the frozen berries. Place in freezer until set, 5-8 minutes and enjoy!

Courtesy Bon Appetit

Get the Bon Appetit Guide for tips on the perfect Valentine Day for you.  Here's what's included.....

Set the mood
Set the table
Kick off with cocktails
Set up your soundtrack
Make ahead menu
Cook at home...a restaurant worthy menu
Tips if you decide to go out

Most importantly, enjoy your weekend!  I'll be in Tahoe, with family and friends, hitting the slopes and trying to teach the kids how to make it down the hill safely...... without hurting myself.  
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February 4, 2015

Dairy Bowl and Pepper Jack Egg White Frittata

We have dairy on the mind here at home, in more ways than one.  The kids are bonding with their soon to be county fair calves.  Heading down to the barn every day after school to practice leading the little calves around on halter and also to pet and brush their furry, fast growing friends.  Soon these calves will be what I call "Lap Cows"....cows that want you to sit in THEIR laps and cuddle.

We also returned home from attending the California State Holstein Association annual convention, which was held in Stockton this year.  Super Bowl was not the only 'Bowl' on our minds this past weekend.  Bryce with his team mates, from our local Redwood Empire Holstein Club, competed in the novice division of Dairy Bowl.  This is where the teams compete against each other, clicking their individual buzzers as fast as they can to answer various dairy related questions.  Such a fun time!

And lastly, healthy eating is on my mind after the holiday mayhem.  And this egg white pepper jack frittata might be on the menu for dinner tonight!
Recipe and photo courtesy of National Dairy Council.

Pepper Jack Egg White Frittata

  • 1 quart liquid egg whites
  • 1 (8-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, washed, stemmed, cored, diced
  • 1/2 cup Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 10-inch oven-safe skillet with cooking spray.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; stir until combined.
  3. Pour egg mixture into prepared skillet; bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until eggs are set.
  4. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 to 7 minutes; slice into 4 wedges and serve.
Tip: Experiment with other vegetable add-ins; try chopped and roasted root vegetables or Brussels sprouts.
Nutritional Facts
Calories: 200
Total Fat: 5 g 
Saturated Fat: 2 g 
Cholesterol: 15 mg 
Sodium: 530 mg 
Calcium: 15% Daily Value 
Protein: 31 g
Carbohydrates: 6 g
Dietary Fiber: 2 g
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