Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese

Although it may seem strangely out of season to some, one of the joys of living in California is the ability to enjoy the beauty and taste of FRESH produce all year round. (I realized just how spoiled I was when back at school in Virginia, not only were the prices astronomical on produce in the winter, but the little that was on the stacks looked seriously malnourished....And why were the CALIFORNIA avocados in the foreign produce?!?) I am still able to enjoy vibrant green salads this time of year thanks to the wonderful sunshine that frequently beams brightly from above. :-) Although, I kind of miss the snow....

The past few days I've been heaping my plate with arugula (or rocket), cranberries, sliced almonds, and goat cheese, covered in a sweet poppy seed dressing. The contrast of the slightly bitter-tasting arugula is a perfect match with the sweet flavors of cranberries and goat cheese. The almonds provide a nice, little crunch to the mix.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Meet the Aurora Golden Gala. I discovered this sweet treat in the grocery the other day as I was meandering through the produce aisle. It is a hybrid of Gala and Splendour, developed up north in British Columbia in 2003.

It is a dessert apple, golden yellow in color, slightly lighter than the Golden Delicious. I was taken aback by its subtle sweetness. It has a honeyed flavor that lingers on your tastebuds.

It was titled in a nationwide "Name the Apple" contest. Although 'Aurora' is good, I think I would have chosen 'Sunrise' as its brightness slowly unfolds, bringing a beaming smile to your face.... :o)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Joys of Childhood

Gnoshing Oreos.

Splitting the halves with a friend to see who gets the creamier half. Licking out the center before dunking into a large glass of cold milk. Attempting to eat the whole package in one sitting. Seeing how black your teeth can really get.
All causes of great delight.
But in my book, nothing matches this: watching a little one munch it up like cookie monster. Nom Nom. Crumbs flying everywhere, smearing cookies 'n cream in his hair....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pumpkin Fail...and Success!

Pumpkin cupcakes are supposed to have pumpkin, right? Well, tell that to the left side of my brain while the right side is off on another task...

I'm usually fairly good at multi-tasking but my attempts to bake and help create costumes simultaneously on Saturday turned into an epic fail. Okay, it wasn't quite that bad. But the next morning, as I was considering what I could do with the leftover canned pumpkin from the cupcakes I had made the night before, I suddenly realized I had no recollection of opening a can of pumpkin. Meaning, there was NO pumpkin in the PUMPKIN cupcakes I had made last night. Minor detail.

The fact that the batter was a bit thick didn't trigger a thought about the lack of pumpkin; I was simply going to add more buttermilk. Nor the comment from a taste-taster who said they were rather 'thick' and perhaps a tad dry. Or how about the fact that they weren't ORANGE. Yeah, I'm apparently a bit dense at times. These facts all came rushing to the forefront of my brain, however, when I realized the absence of pumpkin in my memory. (In an attempt to save face -- I was running back and forth between batches sewing patches into my brother's scarecrow costume. You'll forgive me my fault, won't you?)

The irony: first, I can't find pumpkin at ANY store; now, I can't manage to get it into the batter. I suppose I have learned to live without it for so long, I have gotten used to the notion its not going to be a part of my treats. ;-)

At any rate, I made these tasty 'pumpkin' cupcakes from Smitten's Kitchen. They were rather delicious even without the pumpkin. Spice cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting. Besides the lack of pumpkin, the only other deviation from the recipe was I left out the maple syrup and 1/4 c. of butter from the frosting. And, of course, I added a little candy corn on top for flair.

The true hit of the evening, however, were my pumpkin rice krispie treats. I simply added a bit of red and yellow food coloring to the marshmallows and butter after melting them to give it a nice orange tint. I also added a sour apple bite to the top as a stem. They were every bit delicious and every bit accurate.

N.B. When shaping your rice krispie treats, let the mixture cool a bit before you get started molding. If it is too hot, it simply sticks to your hands. Although, too long and it will never come out of the pan...about 5-10 minutes does the trick.

A costume sampler:
Sally, 'Breaking News', and Swinging Dancer
Caped Masquerade
Napping Indiana Jones
The Freeway
Julia Child and her culinary creation
Hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween! :-)