Baconfest in San Diego!

I was invited to attend a Baconeers Baconfest event and even though it was last minute, I couldn't resist! 'Baconeers' collaborated with Hormel Black Label Bacon and they have sponsored a lot of fun bacony events around town this month to promote the San Diego Bacon Festival happening this Saturday, August 30th from 1PM to 5PM, get your tickets here!



The event I went to was part of the East Village Takeover called First Annual Pigcasso Art Competition. Several talented local artists were recruited to commission a painting within 60 minutes that captures the spirit of International Bacon Day in San Diego, interesting challenge.



The winner of the art competition not only won this trophy, but also a years supply of Hormel Black Label Bacon! We were treated by Bub's at the Ballpark Mustard-Bourbon Glazed Pork Belly Skewers, they were delicious!



It was a great opportunity for us to check out the restaurant Southpaw Social Club. They are in a fantastic location, basically right behind Petco Park. They have three outdoor patios including a cozy fireplace with casual, eclectic, rustic decor. The layout is really well thought out and it has a very comfortable vibe. Although we didn't get to sample anything off the menu this time, it was riddled with temptation.



It was a great evening thank you to all the sponsors; Baconeers, Black Label Bacon, Jenny, Joe, Gus, Southpaw Social Club, all of the artists, and to Lyft for getting us there and back!

Spicy Turkey Lettuce Wraps




I was always a little skeptical of lettuce taking the place of a tortilla. Something as perfect as a taco just shouldn't be messed with. 

What convinced me to try these lettuce wraps? I am always looking for quick and easy, healthy, low carb, low calorie, low fat, gluten free dinner ideas. What I discovered is that these wraps are super delicious and a nice twist to the taco concept with an Asian flair!


To make these pescatarian friendly, substitute the ground turkey for shrimp, they taste awesome!



Spicy Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili pepper flakes
Ground pepper, to taste
2 cups carrots (about 4 medium), shredded
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, sliced thin
½ cup peanuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup teriyaki sauce
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
½ cup (about a handful) cilantro, chopped
1 head leafy lettuce (you could use kale or baby romaine), leaves separated, rinsed and dried

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over high heat. Season ground turkey with ground ginger, garlic powder, chili flakes and pepper then add to skillet. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon as it browns. Cook about 5 minutes or until meat is almost cooked through–but still slightly pink. Remove from skillet and place into a bowl; cover loosely with foil to keep meat warm. Set aside.

Using the same large skillet, add shredded carrots, peppers and onions and cook over medium heat until vegetables soften (about 3 minutes). Mix with wooden spoon or spatula to combine ingredients.

Add mushrooms, peanuts and garlic to the skillet and mix to combine ingredients. Cook all vegetables until softened, about 4 minutes.

Add reserved browned turkey to the vegetables. Add teriyaki sauce, soy sauce and cilantro to the meat and vegetable mixture. Combine all ingredients together and cook over medium heat.

Adjust amount of herbs and sauces to taste. Lower heat and simmer, allowing all flavors to meld. Top with cilantro.

While turkey mix is simmering, prepare lettuce leaves. Use a clean dishcloth or paper towels to dry leaves well.

Divide about 1/3 cup of turkey mix among each of the lettuce leaves.

I find it helpful to start eating from the stem side and roll the leafy side up to hold in the juices and filling.

Enjoy!








Shakshuka - [Eggs with Meat and Tomato Sauce]


Shakshuka is a popular dish in North Africa and the Middle East. It is basically eggs cooked in a thick, spicy sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and spices. I just like to say it, Shakshuka! [shahk-SHOO-kah]



There are many variations of Shakshuka, and I imagine there is a similar version of this dish in every culture. Here is a very basic recipe which I have adjusted to our tastes and preferences, I hope you enjoy!

Shakshuka [Eggs with Meat and Tomato Sauce]
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 cup fresh organic spinach
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
16 oz ground sausage meat (optional)
1 tbsp fresh oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
4 fresh organic, pasture-raised eggs
Goat cheese crumbles for garnish
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Instructions:

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add sliced onions and red bell pepper, sauté for 5 minutes until onions are translucent.

Add sausage to skillet and break and spinach, let sausage cook and spinach wilt

Add in diced tomatoes, herbs and spices; mix to combine.

Gently spread an area and crack an egg in, continue with remaining eggs. To cook quicker, cover the skillet.

Cook until eggs are at desired doneness, about 4 to 6 minutes.
  
Garnish with cilantro, crumbled goat cheese, paprika and freshly cracked black pepper.

Print this recipe!

Cardamom Fig Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

These are the seeds inside the cardamom pods

Cardamom is one of my favorite spices. Popular in Indian cooking, it is one of the main constituents of Garam Masala. It is compellingly strong, yet delicate and sweet.

Considered one of the most valuable spices in the world due to its medicinal and therapeutic properties, cardamom is often used for relieving digestive problems induced by garlic and onion intolerance. It is very beneficial in oral/mouth health and treating halitosis, lowering blood pressure and it has tremendous antioxidant properties. 

Cardamom is used in different ways by different cultures. In the Middle East it's popular to flavor coffee, in Scandinavian communities it's used as a dessert baking spice. In India it is a savory spice for curries. You can also find it used for poached fish, meat dishes, fish stews and it's wonderful on sweet potatoes. 

We are addicted to cardamom in our coffee! We simply add a teaspoon of crushed (an excuse to use my mortar and pestle!) cardamom seeds to our ground coffee and brew in our regular drip coffee maker. Or, if you want to get fancy, try this Pakistani Coffee with Cinnamon & Cardamom from Global Table Adventure.

The recipe below sounds insanely interesting, I'm pretty sure I will be making these this afternoon!


CARDAMOM FIG CHOCOLATE OATMEAL COOKIES 


Recipe Adapted From: Food52
Prep Time: 1 Hour Cooking Time: 15 Mins Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Mins


Ingredients:

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces dark chocolate chunks (we like 70% cacao)
1 1/4 cup dried figs, chopped (soaked in water if too dry)


Directions:


Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy with an electric or stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, stir together all of the remaining (dry) ingredients. Stir these into the butter mixture on low speed until fully combined.

Refrigerate the dough 30-60 minutes before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop the dough in 2-3 Tbs. scoops onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake each sheet one at a time (meanwhile keep the rest of the cookies chilled in the fridge while the first batch bakes) until the edges of the cookies are golden but still look a little doughy in the center, about 15-18 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through the bake time.

Cool the cookies on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. 


Enjoy with a cup of cardamom flavored coffee!


Chive Flowers, Eat Them!

Photo by Tiffany Arp-Daleo


Have you ever eaten a chive flower? They are actually delicious, especially if you like garlic the way I do.

Delicately flavored, the chive blossom is a cross between garlic and onion, but then there is a slight pop of sweet when you bite into the flower.

There are lots of fun ways to eat the blossoms. They are beautiful and delicious scattered over a salad, tartine or baguette. You might like them in your scrambled eggs, and they make a real purty garnish on a deviled egg!

Or, you could get crazy and mash the blossoms into some goat cheese with a bit of honey for a twist on this appetizer recipe found at The Kitchn, I'm drooling.

Chives are easy to grow from seed, get them here at San Diego Seed Company, or look for them ready to eat in your local farmers market!

Cooking with Fresh Herbs

Oregano

Ever since I can remember my Mom had a herb garden that she used for cooking, so naturally, I have always grown herbs too.

I have been more successful growing some herbs more than others. For some reason I struggle with cilantro, perhaps my most favorite herb of them all. I don't understand it, I can keep all kinds of herbs and vegetables alive and thriving, but the cilantro never makes it.

Which reminds me.......

When I need gardening advice, I am very lucky to know one of the best in the business, my friend Brijette owns San Diego Seed Company, if you are interested in organic sustainable seeds, they are your resource!

But I am writing today to talk more about some of the herbs that I can grow successfully, and how to use them everyday. I am not by any means an expert in the field of gardening, or cooking for that matter, but I tend to have a knack for pairing herbs and spices with foods.

Here are some of my favorite  fresh herb/food combinations and some tips too;

Basil - Incredibly versatile, try this basil walnut pesto, great on flatbreads, pasta, salads, legumes, egg dishes and compliments many cheeses beautifully. Oh, and basil is perfect with tomatoes, fresh, dried or in a tomato sauce, try to add the leaves at the end of cooking for maximum flavor.

Chives - Super easy to grow, great in egg dishes, salads, potatoes and fish.

Cilantro - Most people either love it or hate it, I love it in almost everything. Cilantro pairs great with chicken, fish and shellfish, pork, avocados, legumes, peppers, salads, salsas, tomatoes and yogurt. Especially nice with these fish tacos!

Green Onions (Scallions) - Egg dishes, salads, stir fry, great on the grill. You can grow green onions in a pot in a sunny windowsill, just cut off the stocks as you need them, they will re-grow!

Mint - Tea, fruit salads, cocktails or try this amazing sauce the next time you grill fish.

Oregano - Potatoes, meat, poultry, eggs, sauces, roasted vegetables. I like to cut several stems off my oregano plant each week and keep it on the counter to dry out, it's easy and ready to use.

Parsley - Salads, sauces and soups, and it is an excellent source of vitamins A and C.

Rosemary - Fantastic on roasted potatoes, meat (especially lamb), soups, fruit salad, breads and pasta.

Thyme - Love fresh thyme on roasted carrots! Potatoes, meats, poultry, soups and sauces. We keep 2 or 3 different varieties in the garden, each one offers a different flavor.

Also keep in mind, herbs have powerful antioxidant properties, with oregano, dill, thyme, rosemary and sage among the most potent. They've been used for centuries to ward off disease. And if you are watching your weight, herbs are a natural way to add nonfat flavor!

Figs - And A Flatbread



Figs are among the richest plant sources of calcium and fiber. According to USDA data for the Mission variety, dried figs are richest in fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs. They have smaller amounts of many other nutrients. Figs contain many antioxidants. An average medium sized fig has about 40 calories.

Now that we got that out of the way, I love figs! I never even tried one until I met my husband about six years ago, and like a lot of things, there is a story behind that, but this is not the time or place to share THAT story, sorry if I intrigued you.

But here is something I will share with you, the inspiration to MAKE A FLATBREAD! 

You should make that flat bread with sliced figs, sliced apples, prosciutto, walnuts, goat cheese and arugula. Oh, and you should drizzle a little garlic flavored olive oil and some honey on that too. Like this.....




You are welcome : )

Prosciutto, Mushroom, Caramelized Onion & Three Cheese Flatbread


There are many great things about living in San Diego California.

Besides the incredible weather, we have an abundance of the best seafood, Mexican food, craft beer, local and sustainable farming, and some of the best restaurants, bars and hospitality across the world. Yes, I might sound like an advertisement for tourism in San Diego, but I am just proud of my home town!

One of my favorite parts of San Diego is the historic Little Italy neighborhood. If you have the opportunity, you must check out the fantastic Little Italy farmers market every Saturday. I encourage you to talk a walk and explore the neighborhood that contains so much of San Diego's historical Italian culture.

If you happen upon a quaint little deli such as Assentis Pasta, or across the street at Mona Lisa's, do yourself a favor and pick up some freshly shaved prosciutto, some pasta and some cheese, you can thank me by inviting me over to help you eat it!

The following recipe is just one example of what you could make with that prosciutto and that cheese, trust me, the results are delicious!

Prosciutto, Mushroom, Caramelized Onion & Three Cheese Flatbread  (printable recipe here)

Ingredients:

2 8-inch thin flatbreads  - (we love Flatout Flatbread)
4 tbsp olive oil (garlic infused if available)
1 small onion, sliced thin
10-15 small mushrooms, sliced thin
6 oz. thin shaved premium prosciutto
3 oz. sliced mozzarella cheese
2 oz. crumbled goat cheese
2 oz. Parmegiano Reggiano, finely shredded
1 cup fresh arugula or spinach

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Slice the onions and mushrooms. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet over medium/high heat, add onions. Cook until lightly browned and caramelized. Add the mushrooms to the same skillet for last 4-5 minutes, turn off heat and set aside.

Important! Before you put any ingredients on it, bake the flatbread by itself on a cookie sheet for 2-4 minutes. Remove from oven.

Drizzle flatbread with garlic flavored olive oil and evenly spread with a brush all over the top. Assemble the prosciutto, caramelized onions, mushrooms, sliced mozzarella, goat cheese, and some of the arugula. Drizzle with more oil.

Bake for about 6-7 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve with shredded parmegiano reggiano, more arugula and a splash of olive oil.