Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cinnamon crumble apple muffin

Instead of giving your teacher (or kid’s teacher) an apple, give some crumbled apple muffins. There is a specific smell that comes along with fall cooking, its warm, comforting, a little spicy, and always a savory and sweet sense at the same time. These muffins start to fill your house with a wonderful smell the second you place them in the oven. We wanted to combine an apple pie, with an apple strudel, with a muffin, and we were left with this fabulous thing! So enjoy this recipe, make it for the family, the neighbors, anyone you like, because it is sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

*brown sugar is a huge part of this recipe, so pretty much just have a cup of it set aside.


2 cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ cup butter (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 ¼ tsp vanilla
1 ½ cup chopped apples (we prefer honey crisps, or pink ladies)

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tlb. flour
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tlb butter

3 Tlb powdered sugar
2 Tlb milk (give or take)

Start by preheating your oven to 375,  while that heats, grease and line a muffin tray with 12 muffin papers, and fill each one with a spoonful of brown sugar to hold it down and to create a bit of crust by patting down with your finger. Set aside.  
Heat a sauce pan to medium high, and heat your apples and a few spoon fulls of brown sugar until slightly softened. Set aside.

To make the strudel bits on top; in small bowl, mix the 1/3 cup of brown sugar, 1 Tlb of flour, ¼ tsp of cinnamon, and 1 Tlb of butter. Beat together until it starts to create small balls of sand like looking things. This is where a lot of the tasty is!

Now to make the actual batter ;in a large bowl beat together butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. As best as you can take the apples out of the melted sugar and stir in (too much added sugar will cause muffins to be a bit doughy).

In a medium sized bowl mix together your dry mix: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add your dry mix to your wet mix a bit at a time. The mix will seem pretty thick and dry, but when it bakes it will be the perfect consistency, and the apples will moisten the cake as well.

Now using a large spoon fill each muffin cup about ¾ of the way, and then sprinkle with your crumble mix you made in the beginning. Once all are loaded, place in oven, and set for 20 minutes (at the half way point turn the muffins around in the oven).

While the muffins are cooking, make the icing by pouring a little bit of milk at a time into your sugar, until you reach the consistency that you desire.

When muffins are done, remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, and then drizzle icing on, and eat up! Damn they are good!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Fall is Upon Us

Fall is upon us. Here in Venice, we are desperately hoping for it to cool down, we will just have to blast the AC and wear sweaters indoors. The fall equinox begun September 21st, it means the time for harvest, the times for holidays, and the time for comforting foods.

Some more foods that you can expect from us will be fabulous foods like squashes, pumpkins, leeks, slow cooked foods, one pot wonder, and some ghoulish surprises.

This is also a time where colors become deep and rich. As a painter I love to find the art in our food, so we present the colors of some fall foods as seen through the famous pantone. As I am sure you have noticed our colors have changed in our photos now including the pantone color 1685 C!

                         Pantone             Pantone           Pantone              Pantone           Pantone           Pantone
                           1807 C               486C                716C                 157 C               129C               7510C

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall Pomegranate Candied Walnut Goat Cheese Salad!

Pomegranates have been mentioned in many ancient texts and have been prominent in symbology throughout the ages. In Green mythology it was known as the fruit of the dead, while in other culture it symbolizes fertility and good luck. None the less, the pomegranate is a gorgeous fruit inside and out. Michael and I love to use the seeds for their beautiful pop of color and tart flavors that are gorgeous this time of year. Here we use it in an earthy and simple salad, using goat cheese and candied walnuts, which is sure to please the taste and eyes of whomever you make it for.

*You can buy candied walnuts, but why would you when we give you our delish recipe here.

Ingredients: serves 4

Candied Walnuts:
½ cup water
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup halved walnuts

1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper
2 Tlb. olive oil
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

2 Heads bib or butter head lettuce (preferably living)
½ cup crumbled goat cheese


First we want you to make the candied walnuts,  so get ready your ingredients, including a sheet tray with some wax paper over in order to cool the walnuts….we made a bunch so we had a snack for later! Pour water and sugar in to a sauce pan and heat on a medium/ medium-high heat until the sugar completely melts and starts to cook. We want you to cook it for about 20 minutes until the sugar starts to turn to a deep amber brown, this is when you put your walnuts in the sugar, stir with a wooden spoon until they are coated, then remove and place on the wax paper and use two forks, make sure the walnuts do not stick to each other. We use water, because the water evaporates and helps prevent the sugar to rapidly cook and burn.
Now to extract the pomegranate seeds from the pomegranate, by filling a bowl with water, and submerging them while opening them and removing the seeds. This way all of the seeds fall in to the water, and you are able to wash off the hard interior of the fruit and remove the seed easily.
Next take the leaves off of your lettuce, we prefer living lettuce because it lasts longer and seems to taste better, and clean and lay out on a plate. Sprinkle with about ½ a cup of crumbled goat cheese, and ½ a cup of pomegranate seeds, and a handful of walnuts. Finally, mix all of your vinaigrette ingredients together well, and using a large spoon, drizzle the dressing.

Voila!! The colors are beautiful, the taste is superb, and you have left over candied walnuts as a treat!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Summer Fruit Fall Jam

Michael and I went to Colorado in the beginning of August to visit some friends and check out a door to door organic delivery company they have called Mile High Organics. Something we were really struck by was that our friend Brian has this beautiful range of things he has pickled, jarred, jammed, you name it. When we went to stay with another friend, he was so kind to give us a delicious jar of Colorado cherry jam, and I realized there is just something really beautiful about preserving a specific taste that you can use throughout the year. Many of the fruits of the summer are coming to an end, and it is a perfect time to preserve them before they disappear. Just think, when it gets cold and you are drinking your tea, you can enjoy some of this jam and re-experience those wonderful tastes of summer.

What we recently learned is the difference between jelly, jam, and preserves. We made jams and preserves because I want to honor the fruit in its entirety and incorporate as much of it as we can.

Jelly: The fruit comes in the form of fruit juice.
Jam: The fruit comes in the form of fruit pulp of crushed fruit.
Preserve: The fruit comes in the form of chunks in a syrup or jam.

We made strawberry jam, peach jam, nectarine brandy preserve, and cherry almond preserve. Along with the recipe, we also included below a few suggestions of how to use each of these. At the end of the recipes we included the Ball canning link where you can follow the proper instructions of how to can things, otherwise your food will not properly preserve. So be sure to check out.


Strawberry jam:
2 Lb strawberries
1 ½ cup sugar

Peach jam:
2 Lbs. peaches
1 ¼ cup sugar

Nectarine Brandy preserve:
2 Lbs nectarine
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup brandy

Cherry Almond preserve:
4 cups cherries
1 large lemon
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown
1 tsp. almond extract

Strawberry jam (as photographed) is amazingly good with rosemary thyme bread, a little blue cheese, or and stinky cheese and a slab of jam.

Peach jam is delightful with a simple high tea spread with some scones.

This nectarine preserve makes a great base in a nectarine tart. Place in the tart shell, and under the fruit. Yum.

Of course cherry preserve is always a favorite of ours in between cake layers. A classic, and never failing.

Strawberry Jam:
Cut the green off of your strawberries and chop in half, and crush half of your mix of strawberries. In a large sauce pan pour all the strawberries and sugar and heat to a boil on a medium heat. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until the mix starts to thicken while stirring every minute or so.

Peach jam:
We leave the skin on the peaches because it adds a nice texture, so simply pit and chop the peaches. Place the peaches and sugar in a sauce pan and on medium heat bring to a boil. Using a masher, mash up the peaches as they start to soften, stir every few minutes for about 10- 15 minutes as the mix thickens.

Nectarine Brandy preserve:
Leave the skin on the nectarine, pit, and chop. In a sauce pan bring the nectarine and brandy to a boil over medium heat. Add half of the sugar mixture, and stir. Let nectarines soften and using your masher, mash them. Add the other half of the sugar, and stir. This preserve takes a bit to thicken up, so you will need to cook it for about 20 minutes, and may need to skim off some foam.

Cherry Almond preserve:
De-pit and chop half of the cherries, leaving the other half as intact as possible. Cook the cherries on a medium high heat, and bring to a boil. Stir and add all the other ingredients, and stir for about 20 minutes until the mix thickens.

Now that you have made all of your preserves be sure to follow all the steps to proper canning because nothing would suck more than all your hard work going to waste!!! Enjoy this for the months to come!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Game Day Nachos!!!

Oh joy! It is that time of year again…when people gather together around the television to watch the great American sport of football. Friends gather to drink beer, eat chips and dip, yell at the television, all the fun stuff, this is when I know that the fall has truly arrived. Michael’s family all lives in Cherry Hill New Jersey, and Philly, so we are big Eagles fans over here, and we all know that their color is GREEN! To bring together the great joy of football food, the hearty flavors of fall, and the color green, we present our game day suiza nachos.

Suiza sauce is so incredibly delicious, I cannot even begin to describe. It is usually used on enchiladas, but it is so flavorful, brings a bit of heat, and because it is made with tomatillos, serranos, and cilantro, you will achieve a beautiful light green color…go EAGLES!!!

*Make sure you use a skillet or a pan that can go in to the oven.

Suiza Sauce:
1 Lb. tomatillo
2 small Serrano chiles
2 large cloves of garlic
¼ cup cilantro
1/3 cup sour cream

2 bags tortilla chips of your choice
3 cups Mexican three cheese blend
1 large tomato
1 red onion
1 can pinto beans
4 medium fryer chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic
2 Tlb. olive oil
Salt and pepper
Sour cream

The nachos are made in 4 steps 1) cooking chicken, 2) make suiza sauce  and at the same time cook beans 3)layer your yumminess 4) finish off in oven.

So start by preheating the oven to 300 degrees. Coat the chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper, and the two cloves of garlic chopped. Heat a sauté pan with a little bit of oil, once hot, cook the chicken so that it is cooked just to the point of being cooked, because remember that you will be putting the chicken in the nachos and then in the oven for another 5 minutes.  Once the chicken is done chop into small pieces and put aside.
In a deep sauce pan place all of your tomatillos ( make sure you take the husk off) and serranos in the pan and then fill with water so that they are submerged. Bring the water to a boil and cook until they are all soft to the poke of a fork. At the same time in another pan take half of your onion, chop it, and cook with your pinto beans for about 10 minutes, flavor with salt and pepper. Back to the sauce. Once the tomatillos and serranos are done, take them out of the water reserving ½ a cup of the cooking liquid. Place tomatillos, serranos, garlic, silantro, and cooking liquid, and blend until pureed. In the same pan that you boiled the water in, pour the puree and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat and add sour cream and a pinch of salt.

In your skillet you are going to layer everything…this is how we did it. We start with a layer of chips, layer of chicken, layer of beans, layer of suiza sauce, then layer of three cheese blend, then repeat this two more times for a total of three layers! Cheesey goodness! Make sure you save a fairish amount of suiza sauce for the top layer, and be sure to really cheese it up. Put the skillet in the oven for about 7-10 minutes, so all the cheese looks melted.

Take out of oven, chop the tomato and sprinkle all over, and use the rest of the chopped onion and do the same, now smother with that tangy, creamy, superb suiza sauce and DEVOUR!!

Ooh it’s good, even typing this my mouth is watering.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Back to School Lunchbox!!!

  These days I really have no idea when kids start school. When I was younger it was after labor day, until I got to high school, now it seems that many children start really early. For those of us who remember starting school after labor day, here is a back to school lunch for your kids (or yourself). Every paper bag lunch should consist of a sandwich, chips, some dip, and a little something sweet. Michael was such a cute little boy, and sometimes I still make him PBJ sammies so here is a healthy twist on all the good things that little kids love. Our lunch line up today is:
Peanut Butter Banana and Honey Sandwich
Carrot Chips
Greek Dip
Chocolate Covered Apple Slices

Peanut Butter Banana and Honey Sandwich:

2 slices 100% whole wheat bread
4 Tlb. organic creamy peanut butter
1 ½ Tlb. orange blossom honey
1 ripe banana

Carrot Chips and Dip:

4 large carrots
2 Tsp. sea salt
2 Tsp. olive oil
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1 cucumber
1 stem dill

Chocolate Covered Apples:

1 granny smith
Chocolate dip mix


I honestly am using a microwaveable chocolate mix because it is so easy, quick, and tasty. This lunch is for your kids, and you don’t need to slave over the small things to achieve what you want. That being said core and slice your apple, then following the instructions heat up your chocolate. Dip the slices in the chocolate, place on a wax paper covered plate, and leave in the freezer to harder.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and peal the skin off of the carrots, and then chop into three sections. Using a mandolin, or whatever thin slicer instrument you have, slice the carrots paper thin. In a bowl mix together the carrot, olive oil and sea salt. Lay all the slices out on to two baking sheets (they can touch but not overlap). Place in oven and cook for 30 minutes, at the half way point flip the sheet trays around. Once they are finished, take out and lay on a cooling rack so they can crisp up.
In the meantime make the dip by peeling and very finely dicing half of the cucumber, and dicing up the dill. Mix up the greek yogurt, cucumber, dill, and a pinch of salt.
Now on to the finale, the sandwich, three easy steps. Take the bread, spread the peanut butter, place banana slices, drizzle honey, put top slice on, slice… and eat!!!
This lunch is so simple, delicious, and healthy. Wind down the summer and get ready for the school year, and make your kids this lunch….hey even boyfriends love it!!!