Monday, November 21, 2011

Mushroom Turnovers

It is almost Thanksgiving and I am heading out of town to meet up with my whole family to share the holiday of gratitude together.

It's gonna be a blast, but first I have to get ready.  Cooking, laundering, packing, planning, budgeting...and because I am knee deep in baking and cooking and boxes of wine (not boxed wine), I thought I would make my life infinitely more complicated.  I thought I would spend time cooking things I am not taking with me.  Like last night, Marcus and I made a chocolate almond torte, just to eat.  Why would we do such a thing?

Today, because I bought way too many mushrooms at the store because they were a good deal, I did this.

Heaven help me...isn't there something else I should be doing?

Actually, these are very impressive but so easy to make you can make them while you do laundry, make lists, make turkey stock and inventory wine.

They would be great made smaller and served as appetizers or for a main dish for vegetarians at your Holiday Feast.  

Or for a Monday afternoon lunch.

I cooked up my mushrooms in olive oil in small batches so they would brown nicely.  In the last batch I added sliced garlic and chopped fresh rosemary.  Any fresh herb you have around would work, I just happen to have this around.

I also defrosted store bought puff pastry.  It sounds fancy, but it's very easy to work with and fairly inexpensive.

I cut my sheets in half, but you could make them smaller or leave it large.  It would really depend on your mood and the crowd you are serving. 

Once you have the right size puff pastry for your life, put a dollop of plain ole' cream cheese on one half of your future turnover.

Next pile on your mushroom mixture.

Fold over your puff pastry and seal all the edges.

Put all your turnovers on a cookie sheet, I cut slits in the top of my turnovers to let steam out.

I baked the turnovers in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Then cooled them on a wire rack.

These are lovely warm or at room temperature.  
I will pair these with a green salad and serve with a crisp glass of white wine.  
Or maybe I will eat them all standing in my kitchen before the kids come home from school so I don't have to share.  

I'm conflicted.

If you like mushrooms, cream cheese and flaky buttery crust and you have nothing better to do this week, or even if you do...try these out.  

They won't disappoint.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Watermelon Smoothie

I developed this smoothie while I was living in Phoenix half a decade ago.  I developed it because some days when I would get home from work, I didn't want to eat or cook.  I wanted to swim in the pool and hide in the shade.  This was my remedy.  I would whip this up, make a big batch of popcorn and relax.

Now that I live in the Pacific Northwest, my opportunities to make and have this delight are few.  But we have been blessed with some warm weather this week so I am keeping this baby alive!

First I start with a seedless watermelon.  Does anyone still eat the ones with seeds?

I take off the rind and chop it up into roughly 1 inch cubes.

I put it on a cookie sheet and then pop it in my freezer for a couple of hours.  Once it is fully frozen you can put the cubes in a ziplock and keep it in the freezer for when the mood strikes you.

If you don't want to wait for your watermelon to freeze, you can use it unfrozen and add ice.  But really, it is worth the extra work up front.  Just look how gorgeous it is when it is frozen?!

I gather up all my stuff, fresh ginger, fresh mint, lemon or limeade, and honey.  I do sometimes add a fresh lemon or lime zest when I have it.  I didn't today.

I use about a cup of watermelon cubes per person and a peeled fresh ginger piece about as thick as my thumb nail for every two people.  It's really a guessing game,  it will come out delicious however you do it!

I add about 10-12 fresh mint leaves per two people.  Again...a guessing game.

Then in goes about 2 Tbls. honey.

I then add in enough lemon or limeade to cover the watermelon cubes, or there abouts.  If your blender is having a hard time just add more liquid.

Give 'er a whirl and instant refreshment is yours!

Needless to say, this would be fabulous with a couple of jiggers to vodka, tequila or light rum for those of you sans le kiddos.

I never do that because I give this to my kids all the time, especially on hot days when they have a game or practice.  And I always get a thank you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

School Starts Again-A Black and White Issue

Summer is over, the school year is underway and all is as it should be.

It feels good to be back in rhythm, with a schedule.

This year I am working with the middle school children at The Village School here in Eugene.

Teenagers are a moody intense bunch.  For the most part it passes, which is a good thing.

But whilst they are in this intense phase of their lives, I think teens should embrace and explore the darker sides of their psyches.  Because I think we can only truly find our way to light when we acknowledge the darker aspects of ourselves and the world.

Teenagers gravitate towards this behavior naturally.  They test boundaries, they break rules, they dye their hair, rip holes in perfectly good clothing, they pierce things, they party...all in an attempt to explore the darker, edgy side of life.

For my first class this year, I thought that I might help some young students explore the dark and the light in a safe guided charcoal, on paper.

Twelve drawings, twelve different view points. 

When you give teenagers all the tools, some guidance and lots of praise...some really good things happen.

Student's on left, teacher's on the right.

We often see the world in black and white, especially teenagers. But there are many shades between those two polarities.  Many shades, many textures...and they are all beautiful.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Bread Salad...Panzanella

I love carbs.  All of them.

Especially bread...pasta maybe bread...pasta...bread...pasta....bread!

 I need therapy.

This summer I have discovered a way to make my bread a meal.

This is a traditional Italian dish and it is brilliant.  Those Italians know what they are doin'!

The Italians call it Panzanella. I call it yummy.  I also call it easy.

Day old crusty bread, fresh mozzarella,  basil, tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar. And as always...salt and pepper.

Coat bread with oil and liberally season with salt and pepper.

I grilled my bread until it was toasty on both sides.

I let it cool for a few minutes, then cut it up into bit sized chunks.

I cut everything else up roughly the same size as my bread pieces. 

I tossed in the bread and let it soak up the yummy juices from the cheese and tomatoes. It is a briny, fresh, earthy combo that can't be beat. 

I also drizzled it with olive oil and vinegar, I used a light vinegar because that is what I like.  Whatever floats your boat though...I don't judge.  Unless you have a mullet.

Serve for lunch to friends along side chilled white wine and sliced strawberries with mint.  Or pair it  with grilled chicken, meat or veggies for your family on a warm summer evening.  

Wine optional...but recommended.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fresh Corn Salsa

It is really summer around here.

I know that because there is corn in the stores.

True summer only happens when the corn arrives...I'm serious.  That's how Native people marked the arrival of summer.

I made that up.  Sounded good though huh?

I make stuff up all the time and then try and convince my kids it's true.  I told them we bought the cat an elliptical machine for Christmas because he is really packing on the pounds.  That was months ago, and I keep telling them they are on back order but that it will be here soon.  I told Marcus just last week that he better get cracking and design and make something quick so I don't look like a liar to my kids.

They will need therapy.

I hope you still like me even though I make stuff up.  And mentally abuse my children.

I made this up today though and I think it is pretty good.

I made it because it is summer.  Because I love corn.  Because it is delicious.  Because it has lime juice in it.  Because I am obsessed with mexican food.

Gather your friends in close.

Chop you veggies, I like every thing to be about the same size.  It makes for easier eating.

No need to cook corn here, just cut it right from the ear.

Pile it all up.

Add your cheese, I used feta.  But you could use cotija, queso fresco or omit it completely if you are doin' the vegan thing.  You could also omit the black beans if you are doin' the raw thing.

The juice from half a fresh lime.  Also some olive oil, salt and pepper.

And there you have it!  
It could be served with chips, over brown rice, with tacos, on top of salad or all by it's lonesome.  

Any way you look at's all good!

Corn Salsa
5 ears fresh corn
1/2 small diced red onions
1/2-3/4 C small diced tomatoes
1/2 C chopped fresh cilanto
1/2-3/4 C feta cheese
1 can black beans
1 lime
2-3 Tbls. good olive oil
salt and pepper

Remove corn from ears.  Dice and chop all your veggies, add to the corn.  Add feta and beans, toss to combine.  Add lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

Summer Cooler

The other day I came across a recipe that made a light bulb go off in the ole' mellon.

I have had this before.  And I liked the feeling.

For all my buddies out there in Auburn CA...who have been to Latitudes (who hasn't?)... you will recognize it too.

At Latitudes they call it Herbal Iced Tea.

The recipe I found called it the same thing.

But I am calling it something else... because I can.

This is all you will need.  I meant to grab RED Zinger... but ended up with this one instead.  It is just as yummy as the Red.

Oh...and this...

Steep away!

I wanted to show you  how beautiful this tea is just by itself.

Once the juice and the tea is mixed it has a lovely rose color.  It would be jewel toned if you used filtered apple juice.

This is the perfect thing on a hot summer day.  It goes well with everything, or nothing at all.  My kids love it.  My husband loves it, and there is no caffeine in it. I usually stick with the fully leaded kind, but this is a nice treat sometimes.

Summer Cooler
4 bags Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger Tea
4 bags Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger Tea
4 C hot water
4 C apple juice

Steep all 8 tea bags in 4 C boiling water for about 10 minutes.  Mix with 4 C apple juice and refrigerate.  Pour over ice, garnish with something beautiful, insert straw and ENJOY!