Friday, July 15, 2016
Are you loving these long days of summer (except for my friends in the other hemisphere... for you I wish you warm weather soon!)? Mornings with no alarms, impromptu beach sessions with friends, and Friday evening Jazz in the Park... I'm loving each and every sunny moment. And frequently these special summer moments include food, but the potluck part can sometimes be difficult if we don't have the right tools.
Once again I have OXO to the rescue. Making me a super salad queen, we have no more soggy salads when using the 8 Piece Snap Glass Round Container Set and the super handy Little Salad Dressing Shaker to transport my goodies to the fun.
Heading to mom and dad's last week, mom requested her favorite watermelon salad. Not a problem, but I knew we wouldn't be eating until other friends arrived and by the time I transported the salad and let it sit for a few hours we'd have a less than appetizing, soggy dish.
So, I placed the greens and quinoa in the largest of the 4 glass snap bowls, then the watermelon in another bowl and the dry, crispy toppings in another. The salad shaker brought the dressing separately and I placed it all into a cooler with OXO's 2 in 1 Salad Servers.
When the time came to serve I simply tossed the greens, added watermelon, and then dressed and garnished with my favorite crispy chickpeas and served - all in mere minutes and we had a fresh, crisp salad.
Mom loves the sweet watermelon paired with the zesty arugula (I love the name "rocket" that my Australian friends use for it!) and I adore the crispy salty chickpea/pumpkin seed topping. Easy to toss together, this salad works well from the beach to the park to your own backyard.
My thanks to OXO for the bowls, and for once again making me look all put together and polished. The snap lids are perfect for transportation with 4 locking snaps and a removable gasket that makes these beauties totally leakproof. Nestable and stackable, these bowls store easily in the cupboard or transport well in the cooler.
Wishing you health and happiness as we enjoy these summer days...
Eat well always,
Sunday, July 3, 2016
Coconut... it's everywhere these days, isn't it? We've all seen the coco-water craze, and personally I'm obsessed with the oil and manna (manna dollop on oatmeal anyone?). But Coconut Balsamic? Ohhh, yes indeed.
Last weekend I attended a local food festival, North Eats, in Carlsbad, CA. Showcasing some 25+ local North County San Diego restaurants (Blue Ribbon, Local Tap House, Prep Kitchen and Solterra being a few of my favories). The sponsor, Baker and Olive, challenged the chefs to feature Baker and Olive oils and vinegars in their recipes, and oh my goodness did they succeed.
I'm still craving Prep Kitchen's savory Potato Agnolotti, and that Honeydew Melon Gazpacho from Solterra will be a must have whenever I visit. But it was Master's Kitchen's Coconut Lime Shrimp Sapicon (think shrimp, mango, coconut and lime on small toasts) that took me to Baker and Olive for a bottle of Coconut Balsamic to call my own (Note I came home with olive oil from Spain, a Tuscan oil and a Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic in addition).
Yes... Coconut Balsamic, a white balsamic infused with the scents and flavors of any tropical island you can think of. Slightly tart with the balsamic notes, the coconut makes a rich, flavorful vinegar that I can only imagine paired with a Lime infused Oil (it's on my to try list).
But how perfect does it pair with my strawberry salad? Simply perfectly perfect in my opinion.
Just in time for your 4th of July celebrations tomorrow, this simple salad receives an extra coconut kick from the coconut balsamic, but a drizzle of any white balsamic will do. Toss in finely sliced mint ribbons and top with crunchy coconut chips and your potluck dish is ready in no time. And... it will be gone in time too.
Here's wishing you a fun-filled and safe, 4th of July, 2016 my friends. Eat well :)
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Ahhh scones... the epitome of afternoon tea. I carry vivid memories of my very first tender biscuit (some 30 years ago!) served with traditional clotted cream and a side of homemade apricot jam whilst visiting the South of England - Devon to be exact. And while I'm not sure I've ever tasted another scone that actually lives up to this memory, I haven't stopped trying.
On occasion we used to bake scones with traditional butter and cream, but when my son (dairy-free) requested a lemon version we used a coconut milk substitute and we haven't looked back at heavy cream since.
Light and tender, these scones bake to a lovely bite on the outside with a tender, almost creamy inside - when a light hand is used in kneading.
The coconut milk lends a richness and boosts the flavors all around, and the lemon icing brings a bright finish to the whole thing.
Another scone stuck in my memory found its way to me far, far away from the green hillsides of England, but rather in a Farmer's Market on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. The flavor of the day listed lavender and I almost walked right on by. But curiosity got the best of me and I purchased one for brunch. Hesitant, as lavender has always been a candle scent in my world, my husband and I shared the scone and quickly wished we had purchased two.
Today, a new lavender plant in my back yard, brought temptation to recreate the Hawaiian Lavender version along with our sunny lemon. And fresh lavender turned this scone into another great success. While it's not seeming to be a hit with everyone who tries, those who do enjoy the flavors of lavender will enjoy the lavender/lemon combo of this dairy-free recipe.
So whether you prefer a brilliantly bright lemon scone on its own, or lemon with a hint of lavender, you can start making new scone memories right here and right now.
Wishing you love and laughter my friends, enjoy!
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Loaded with history, tended by exemplary hosts, sleeping in comfortable rooms, and dining on delectable breakfasts catering to your every whim... did I catch your attention? These are just a few highlights of our weekend at the Maxwell Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast in the Sodus, NY area.
My first ever visit to the state of New York found me shivering in 42º temps on the chilly shores of Lake Ontario experiencing spring for the second time this season. So different from my bustling (warm!) San Diego home, the Maxwell Creek B and B served as a peaceful Inn for our weekend stay in the Sodus area.
Just outside of Sodus Point proper, this lovely B and B dates back to 1846 when William Swales built the home for his daughter Elizabeth and her new husband Mr. John Preston as a wedding gift.
Covered with round, lake-washed cobble stones, the house makes quite a statement along with its original carriage house (now turned into guest accommodations for families, groups and extended stay guests), gorgeous grounds and big red barn. The happy Preston's bore 7 children, and this historic home stayed in the family for nearly 150 years.
With our visit in early May, apple blossoms were just popping from trees on the grounds and daffodils smiled brightly in greeting around the home's front entry. Smiling even more brightly, owner Belinda McElroy, made us welcome from the very first moment.
Giving a short history of the house and a quick tour, we somehow felt transported to Elizabeth Swales' home some 170 years earlier. Filled with antiques, it's not hard to imagine ourselves back in the mid-1800's.
Most notable in the home's history is the rumored connection to the Underground Railroad. Recently named a local "Legend and Lore" Historical Site, the home's 6 acre grounds back up to Maxwell Creek and Maxwell Bay where small schooners sailed in to trade wheat for flour milled at Preston's Grist Mill originally built in 1794, and then rebuilt after being washed away in 1812.
|View from the grounds of Maxwell Creek|
|Sitting Room for all guests|
Two comfortable sitting rooms in the main house feature bright windows, comfy chairs and a tv available for all guests, and the dining room (used to be called the "keeping room") can be found on the bottom level.
With coffee available all day in addition to irresistible home made cookies (I had at least two a day!), Belinda has thought of everything.
For our recent stay we laid our head in the Gaylord Suite, the largest of the five available guest rooms. Originally the Gaylord Boys' Dorm Room, this room features a large picture window overlooking Maxwell Bay and apple orchards along with peeks of Lake Ontario.
Furnished with a King sized bed, sofa, chaise lounge, and tv, the suite boasts a private bath with shower (no tub). In addition, the room holds a dining table for four where guest may have breakfast served in their room upon request.
Which brings us to the breakfast part of the stay. Belinda checked with us before our arrival for any special requests or dietary needs, and our request for a diary-free meal was met with no issue at the time we requested.
Refreshing our palates with freshly squeezed orange juice, the second course arrived featuring a tempting veggie frittata served with sliced tomatoes topped with feta and sliced basil. Two slices of hearty homemade English Muffin Bread rounded out this mouthwatering meal, and we found ourselves already anticipating breakfast the next day.
And it was that second day that left Liv begging me for a trip to the Inn. Orange French Toast served with chopped bananas and broiled orange slices all sort of melded together with a delectably sweet orange syrup. Photos immediately made their way across the country and onto my facebook page as I may have boasted how lucky I was just as Liv removed yet another frozen waffle (I did make them for her before I left!) from the freezer.
As we were the only visitors on our stay, I took a moment to peek into the other guest rooms before we left. All rooms look comfortable and inviting, and many featured king sized beds with private baths, and one room on the top floor offers a twin sized bed in addition to a full-sized antique four poster.
Charming, comfortable, beautiful and historical, the Maxwell Creek Inn made our visit to Sodus, NY even more special than expected. Many thanks to Belinda for the extra special touches that made us feel so welcome.
|Early morning spring dew on the grounds of the Maxwell Creek Inn|
Friday, May 13, 2016
National food days... who decides them? I mean seriously, how is today, April 13th, simultaneously National Fruit Cocktail Day, National Hummus Day AND National Apple Pie Day? I simply don't get it.
Nonetheless. This morning I made Liv one of her favorite smoothies, something she dubbed an "Apple Pie Smoothie" way back when she was little. And don't you know, today just happens to be National Apple Pie Day?
So it seemed fitting to share this creamy, vegan Apple Pie Smoothie recipe with you to include you in our coincidental celebration!
Creamy with Liv's favorite frozen banana, this simple concoction of apples, almond milk, almond butter, cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg sweetened with a splash of pure maple syrup brings the essence of apple pie to your cup. But without the sugars and fats of the real thing.
Join us as we toast National Apple Pie Day and sip our pie before heading out to start the day.
Monday, April 25, 2016
Looking to spend a little time on some of the most pristine beaches in the country? Or how about dining in a restaurant in the heart of a quaint community with the feel of yesteryear? Or perhaps you're looking to catch a glimpse of some of our country's elite military in training (SEAL BUD/S)? What you are looking for is Coronado Island.
Situated just across the bay from downtown San Diego, Coronado Island can be reached by the award-winning and beautifully curved Coronado Bridge or by a 15 minute ride across the bay on the Coronado Ferry. Known most notably for the iconic Hotel Del Coronado, this little island, peninsula actually, transports visitors to a charming town filled with numerous dining and shopping opportunities. But to feel the quaintness of the town and to really appreciate the beauty of the many elegant gardens lining the streets one really need to get out and walk.
And that's exactly what we did last Saturday afternoon with a Bite San Diego Coronado Walking tour. Started in 2010 by a San Diego native, Bite San Diego aims to show local and out of town visitors alike that San Diego restaurants bring more to the table than fish tacos and cheap sushi. Fun and carefree tours guide guests through one of seven different itineraries bringing each little town to life through food combined with a little history and lore.
The Coronado tour takes you to both sides of the island, beginning on the more touristy side near the Coronado Ferry Landing. Greeted with spectacular views of down ton San Diego, one can't help but marvel at the expansive bay and usually gorgeous weather that we here in San Diego many times take for granted.
Our guide, Brittany, began with a brief overview of the tour then encouraged us all to introduce ourselves, which I admit I first scoffed at. However after hearing everyone's home town and favorite travel destination, conversation between groups easily ensued as we made our way to the first destination, the aptly named waterfront Peohe's.
Meaning "A Gathering of Friends" in Hawaiian, Peohe's offers sweeping views of downtown San Diego and the Coronado Bridge while specializing in fresh tropical seafood dishes influenced by Pacific Rim flavors. Eagerly accepting plates of Crispy Coconut Shrimp, my husband and a few others perused the crafty cocktail menu (note cocktails are not included in the Bite San Diego tour, but are available for purchase at a few of the stops).
Making the perfect call, we both very much enjoyed a Monarch Margarita - 1800 Reposado Tequila, Solerno Blood Orange Liquor, Finest Call Blood Orange Sour, and freshly squeezed lime juice - which now ranks up there as one of the best I've had (and a side note here... I'm probably one of the pickiest margarita girls around).
Moving on to our next stop our group meandered back past the ferry landing and on to the delightful Tartine. With a menu specializing in "what's selling now at the farmer's market", one knows whatever is being served will be fresh and probably local. And that's exactly how I'd describe the light veggie filled gnocchi dish served the smiling staff.
A few guests tried the featured rosé, but even more of us succumbed to the cases and glass domes filled with freshly made pastries. From giant snickerdoodles (which I brought home to Liv and she has proclaimed better than my recipe... sigh...) to pretty pavlovas to slices of nutty banana tortes, Tartine treats are beyond sublime.
Heading out to Orange Avenue, our group strolled and chatted while enjoying the lovely gardens in front of many residences and hotels as we made our way to our next destination - Coronado Taste of Oils.
Family owned and operated since 2010, our bubbly host taught us that oil and vinegar aren't just for salad dressing. Serving a sorbet topped with a lovely aged balsamic combined with some sort of wine (I unfortunately didn't get the recipe...) we learned health benefits as well as tips for oil and vinegar use.
Then the fun began as our group tasted incredibly fresh oils and vinegars from as far away as Tunisia, Australia and Italy in addition to specialties made right here in California. Fig, blueberry, lemongrass and espresso balsamics made it into my tasting cup, but it was the Cilantro Roasted Onion Oil that made it into my bag and back to my kitchen (recipe for roasted olive oil chick peas coming soon!). Note - a discount is given to Bite San Diego guests.
Back out on the road our group headed to another local favorite, Clayton's Mexican Takeout along with their new smoothie takeout window. Brittany settled us in the outdoor seating and we enjoyed watching the endless line of locals grab and go with their favorite tacos or burritos in hand.
Tasting street tacos and a cup of their new acai smoothie we all felt like locals.
Satiated and enjoying the sun, Brittany moved us along with a promise of a sweet treat. Just around the corner from Clayton's we found yet another local favorite, Nado Gelato. With roots back to Italy, Nado's takes their gelato seriously and fills their recipes with fresh, quality ingredients. Be it deep, rich chocolate, bright lemon or creamy caramel, Nado's brought the perfect finale to our Coronado Walking Tour.
- A quick note here to let you know the tour does not end where it began, but a 20 minute or so walk will have you back at the ferry landing -
Taking Brittany's advice my husband and I bid our fellow guests farewell and headed off for a quick walk through the famed Hotel Del Coronado. I've always loved the iconic red turrets, but hadn't known they were inspiration to L. Frank Baum for his Emerald City as he wrote the Wizerd of Oz. And this time we even spied the crown chandeliers said to have been designed by the author.
All in all a wonderful, leisurely day that introduced us to a little bit of vacation in our own backyard. Our thanks to Bite San Diego for the inspiration to explore Coronado even more now that we've seen and learned a bit about the area.
But the biggest question remains... which tour should we do next??
Bite San Diego Walking Food Tours
Liv Life Note: Bite San Diego provided Liv Life with two Coronado Walking Tour Tickets. Writing this post was not a required part of the deal, but we had so much fun I want to share!
|Coronado Walking Tour - April 2016|