Monday, October 31, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

french toast gets even better...

i am not sure why i mess with success...and if you have made my french toast recipe, you will know it doesn't get any better than that!  but...i thought about using jarad's favorite cereal instead of the panko bread crumbs, and it was a close second.  in keeping with the cinnamon theme, i am using cinnamon toast cruch cereal to make the crust.

***please see original blog for "best french toast" recipe.  the only thing that differs is we will be using cinnamon toast crunch cereal in place of the panko bread crumbs***

how to:

place 1 1/2 cup of cereal in ziplock bag and smash using a kitchen mallet.

smash them until they are broken down into fine pieces.

coat your bread in batter and dip into cereal crumbs.

use butter or vegetable oil in pan and cook on medium-low heat until golden brown.

serve with your favorite fruit and/or syrup.  enjoy!

we both equally enjoyed this recipe as much as my original one.  i think the biggest difference is in texture.  the panko forms a crispy crust on the french toast, where as the cereal remains crispy, but does not form as solid of a crust as the panko.  the cereal adds a little more sweetness and crunchy texture.  let me know which one you guys prefer?!?!?!?!

Friday, October 28, 2011

let it go...


wise words to live by and practice...each day is a new beginning.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

garden box...39 days

we are getting lots of new growth in the garden box, it looks full and healthy, and now i am eagerly waiting for some produce.  we still have some pesky fruit flies, but they are minimal.  jarad thinks they are attracted to the strawberries that have gone bad, so he cleaned them up a bit.

the cucumbers are getting lots of new baby leaves that are forming in the middle of the root of the plant.  i got excited that it may be an actual cucumber, but jarad assured me that it is just more leaves.  here is a close up, so you can see what i am talking about...

what i thought was a weed, jarad seems to think is the start of his jalapeno plant.  we planted them on the right side of the box, but he dug them up a few times, and he was unable to locate the seeds.  so he believes this seedling got moved when he dug it up and has now started growing in the middle of our box.  verdict is still out on whether or not it is a weed or a jalapeno...time will tell.

the tomatoes are getting larger, and we have lots of baby ones coming in.  they are still green, but i am hoping they continue to ripen.  i know we missed the boat on tomato season, but maybe we get a few in before it gets too cold.

the strawberries are also on their way out.  i hear that they will re-bloom every year.  but the ones that are red, just stay small and a pink color.  then they eventually rot.  the thai chili's that sit on top of the strawberries are starting to grow many of the black chili's, however, the leaves are not as green as they were.  they are taking on a more yellow color and one of the chili plants is completely dead.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

quote of the week...

"life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one." 
~stella adler

new orleans, french quarter

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

paella dinner...

paella is one of my mom's staple dishes for company/entertaining, and she gets lots of requests for it.  this dish is great because it is good for a large crowd and parts of it can be made in advance.  this recipe is not a very authentic spanish style paella (because i do not like seafood), but the best part about paella, is that you can make it your own depending on your tastes.  traditionally paella is made in a large flat pan (it can even be cooked on the bbq) but i have found the paella pan to be a little intimidating to use, and i am able to make parts of the paella ahead of time by doing it in stages.

ingredients: (serves 6 + leftovers)

3 cups long grain white rice
5-6 cups chicken broth (or 5-6 ts. chicken bullion to make your own)
2 lemons
5 tb.olive oil
pinch of saffron threads
4 medium zuchinnis
1 cup frozen peas
3 packages of uncooked sausage (you can use mild italian, pork, chicken, turkey or any combination...your preference)
2 lb. chicken breasts or tenderloins
1 1/2 t. greek or lemon pepper seasoning

***i leave out all seafood and shellfish from my recipe, but of course you can add shrimp or mussels to yours***

how to:

i start out by cooking my meat first.  this is one of the steps that can be done in advance.  since we are dealing with raw sausage, you will have to cook them in boiling water.  this should take approximately 12-15 minutes.

once they are cooked through, i slice them at a angle (3 pieces per sausage link) and then brown them in a fry pan. your chicken in a baking dish.

 drizzle 1 tb. of olive oil, squeeze a half of a lemon and sprinkle with greek seasoning.

bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.  i am using chicken breast tenderloins in my recipe, and these tend to cook up very fast.  if you are using breast meat, it will take longer to bake.

the zuchinni is another step that can be done in advance.  i cut the zuchinni into 1/2 inch rounds and then cut them down the middle. drizzle with 1 tb. of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. bake them on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until tender.

***refrigerate meat and zuchinni until you are ready to reheat***

the last step in putting your paella together is making the flavorful rice.

the trick to the rice, is making the broth taste as flavorful as chicken soup.  i start out by heating up 5 1/2 cups of water and adding 5 ts. of chicken bullion, 1 1/2 lemon juice, large pinch of saffron, and 3 tb. olive oil. when seasoned water is at a light boil, add your rice and let cook until tender, approximately 20 minutes.

while your rice is cooking, this is a good time to reheat your meat and zuchinni.  turn your oven onto 350 degrees.  place all of your chicken and sausage in one large baking dish and warm through.  the zuchinni will not take as long to heat up, so you can either heat in the microwave for a few minutes, or wait until the meat is almost done and then place it on a cookie sheet to warm up in the oven.

now comes the fun part...time to assemble!  once your rice is cooked, throw in your frozen peas (they will warm through very quickly), zuchinni and mix together.  then add all of the meat (and juices) on top and give it a stir.

garnish with some lemon wedges, serve with french bread and salad. enjoy...

Monday, October 24, 2011

music...okkervil river

i can remember most major life events by a song.  a life without music is just boring...

i am going to start making weekly posts with some of my favorites, i hope you enjoy a peek into my playlist.

this week is okkervil river, "lost coastlines"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

snickerdoodle cake...

i made this cake with jarad in mind...he is a fan of anything with cinnamon in it (cinnamon rolls, toothpaste, hot tamale candies, my cinnamon swirl french get the idea), so i thought he would like this one...

cake ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tb. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 tb. cinnamon
2 sticks softened butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
1  1/4 cups whole milk

how to:

heat oven to 325 degrees

sift together 2 kinds of flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and set aside.

cream together butter, eggs and vanilla (add eggs one at a time).

in three batches, slowly add in dry mixture and milk...

pour batter into a greased 18 x 24 sheet pan or 2 round pans and bake for 35-40 minutes.

allow cake to cool before frosting...

frosting ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks softened butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tb. whole milk

cream together butter, brown sugar and cinnamon...

in three batches, add in powdered sugar and milk until smooth.

frost cake...

and enjoy...

Saturday, October 22, 2011


new flowers in the office, and i love these guys.  they make me happy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

garden box...33 days

i was surprised today to see that our squash and cucumbers have new growth.  they are growing baby leaves that look full and healthy.  it still amazes me that i look at these plants everyday and they are constantly changing...

the thai chili's are also starting to get bigger and they are now starting to really look like a pepper.  i hear these peppers are HOT!

and the tomatoes are still green, but getting bigger by the day.  we have more coming in and lots of yellow flowers.  i am not a big tomato fan, but i am excited to try these when they are ready to eat.

here is a picture of the whole garden basil is doing really well.  i may pick some of it to cook with this weekend.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

tanaka farms...

they say disneyland is the "happiest place on earth", but for the month of october, i beg to disagree (and you all know how much i love disneyland).  tanaka farms in irvine is the place to be for an amazing pumpkin patch, corn maze, petting zoo, wagon rides and picking your own veggies.

this is not your typical grocery store parking lot pumpkin patch, in fact they have private tents out in the farm where you can organize your own party.

it is hard to say which i like better; the petting zoo or pumpkin patch, but there are so many fun things to do at tanaka, the whole family (young and old) will enjoy, and i was the biggest kid there.

the first stop was the petting zoo.  in years past, they had a bigger assortment of barn animals, but this year it was limited to mostly goats and sheep.  you can buy food and hand feed them, although i think they tend to be less pushy and more lovable when you don't have food in hand...check out some of my new friends...

next we hit the corn maze...

the corn maze is very "kid friendly", it has a simple lay out and is easy to find your way around...

after surviving the corn maze, we walked through the pumpkin patch on our way out.

tanaka farms has beautiful "designer" pumpkins as well.  if you are looking for something out of the ordinary, they have beautiful white, green, fairytale and cinderella pumpkins.

we all had a fun filled day at the pumpkin patch, it always feels so festive and really gets you in the mood to bring on the holidays.  if you want more info on visiting tanaka farms, please visit website

hope you enjoy your time there as much as we did...