Friday, May 27, 2011

Green Smoothie Time!

Green Smoothie

So I feel almost guilty posting all these "fatty" recipes when in reality I really try not to eat that way.  I've been working very hard this past year on being healthy and getting in shape.  I have an incredible Pilates trainer Loriol Anderson, who I work out with 3 times a week to tone and build muscle.

For the first time in my life, I actually LOVE working out.  Besides pilates, I also try to do 3-5 miles of Cardio every day.  I'll admit though, during the winter I wasn't great on my cardio and I payed the price with no actual weight loss happening, just maintaining.  I hate gyms, but love the outdoors...
Now that its Spring I finally get to go down the Canyon again.  There are many great things about the state of Utah, but one of the greatest things are the Mountains.  Who gets to work out with scenery like this... so one day I realized I had my camera in my car, and decided to show everyone how I work out.  If you want the full affect I highly suggest listening to some Feist and Adele since thats what I listened to while working out this particular time!
 This spring we have had an amazing amount of rain.  Its been pretty miserable, and I got sick of it this past week and decided rain or shine im going outside. So I would usually wait until there is a break in the rain, and then head up the canyon...

This day was rather humorous, considering that I was 45 minutes up the canyon when it started to POUR.  So i put my camera in my hoodie and headed back down as fast I could, but then there was just such beautiful shots to take that I snuck some in... at one point my lens cap fell off and went into the little pond and I had to climb under the fence in the rain and reach into the pond to get my lens cap.  Thats when I decided it was probably best that I stop taking pictures...

This is just playing with tints, true color is above.  But check out the spring run off...

 At the end of the long day, I decided to curl up with a CUPPA tea and read a good book snuggled up on the couch in sweats and a warm blanket...

Part of my eating healthy habits is that I normally start off the day drinking a green tea in the morning, followed by a green smoothie.  So here is my green smoothie recipe that I made up, with my trainers suggestions...

I put a Green Tint on this just to be funny... So dont get scared...
Green Smoothie


1 C. baby spinach
1 C. kale
1/2 C. PLAIN greek yoghurt
1 Truvia packet or (agave or honey to taste)
1 t. Flax or Chia seed
1/2 c. fresh berries
1/2 frozen banana (makes it creamier but you can add fresh, or leave it out.)
Enough milk or water to blend into a nice smoothie.  I tried coconut milk to add more protein and less fat, not the coconut milk in a can, but the kind that comes in milk containers.  It made it into a paste that was a little too thick for me.  But it was really tasty!  I prefer milk.  

This shake is very filling, it has protein from the Yoghurt, potassium from the banana, antioxidants from the berries, fiber from the flax and chia, and loads of vitamins, plus 2 full servings of veggies and a serving of fruit! Note I always try to use organic veggies and fruit, you dont have to but I find them more flavorful and its what i prefer. We added this up one morning and its about 300 calories.  All depends on your milk and yoghurt...

Add all the contents to a blender and blend until smooth... drink and enjoy your fresh start to a great day!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Apple Balsamic Salad

Being single makes cooking a bit tedious at times.  Don't get me wrong, I love leftovers for one meal, I just dont like eating them for a week straight. So Camille Funk, who lives in my neighborhood, came up with this fun idea for a cookbook called Table For One, where all the recipes are made for one portion size.  There are lots of fabulous looking recipes in there, however, the only one I have tried is this Apple Balsamic Salad.  I cant say enough good things about it.  I did add a few more things the second time I made this, like cucumbers and green onions, and I used baby portobellos which i prefer.  But its a easy recipe and the dressing is rather tasty.  Sometimes I make the dressing sugar free by using Agave Maple flavored syrup.  I made this with the butternut squash soup.  It was a very tasty meal!

Apple Balsamic Salad

1 ½ Tbsp. toasted pine nuts
1 strip of bacon
2 handfuls red leaf romaine lettace
¼ c. Mushrooms, chopped
¼ cup granny smith apples, chopped
2 Tbsp. Grapes, chopped
2 Tbsp. canned beets, chopped
2. Tbsp feta cheese (but I used chevere cheese)

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. maple syrup or brown sugar
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Dash of salt and pepper

1.       Place pine nuts on a small baking sheet and broil for 1-2 min on each side, until toasted.
2.       Cook bacon in a small skillet until lightly browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and let            cool.  Pat down bacon with paper towel to remove excess grease. Crumble.
3.       Toss together contents of salad in a medium bowl or on a plate.
4.       Mix contents of vinaigrette in a small cup. Stir well and toss with salad.

Camille Funk
Table For One

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

That is a really long name for a soup, but i'm not feeling very creative at the moment so we will go with it. While I was waiting for my family to come home from there trip to England, I decided to make them a light dinner.  I was feeling a little under the weather, so I decided to make a butternut squash soup.  I can never get enough of any soup made with butternut squash.  So I just went to the fridge and pantry and pulled out what we had.  I loved it and highly suggest making it.  To make it less fattening just add more chicken broth instead of cream.


1 medium Yellow Onion
1 T. Olive Oil
1 T. Butter
6 C. of chopped Butternut Squash
1 1/2 C. Chicken Stock (I used Rachel Rae)
1 can of Coconut Milk
1 C. Heavy Cream
2 t. Curry Powder
1/2 t. Cinnamon
1/4 t. Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste
Raw Pumpkin Seeds (optional)

In a sauce pan add oil and butter to the bottom of the pan with chopped onions.  Adding the olive oil and butter cuts down the amount of butter in the soup, but gives it that buttery taste. Saute onions until they start to brown up a bit, this will take about 5 minutes.  Add butternut squash.

In some grocery stores such as Costco and Harmons, they have containers of pre-cut squash so I just get those and use them.  If you dont have those options, then cut open a butternut squash, de-seed, and cut off the skin.  Cut the squash into chunks and add to your pan.  If you dont want to do this, you can also cook it at 350 degrees in the oven until its fork tender.  Then add it to your soup.

Once the butternut squash is added, add chicken stock. In my pan, I used about 1-2 cups, but basically it depends on how much squash you have.  You just want enough stock to barely cover the top.  Then simmer the squash until its soft and easy to mash. Takes about 20 minutes.

Add curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir.  Taste the soup and see if you need more  curry powder, it all depends on how much you like curry.  My family is not huge curry fan, so I didn't add a lot, I am, so if I made this for me I would have added another Tablespoon.  Next add the can of coconut milk and let it heat up.  Take off the heat and put soup in a blender and blend up until its a smooth creamy soup.  Place back into you pan and let it sit at a low heat.  If you want you can now add the cream and bring it up to warm.  Just make sure you dont boil the soup anymore.

Place in a bowl and add pumpkin seeds as a garnish.  I love the crunch with the squash.  In fact when I make squash as a side dish I often garnish with pumpkin seeds!
Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Italian Feast

Rosemary Garlic Bread
One of my favorite meals, and a family favorite of ours is Chicken Parmesan, with Marinara Sauce and Garlic Rosemary bread.  I originally learned the Marinara sauce from my friend Andrea, and her family who are all very talented cooks!  In fact, some of the best dishes I make are from them. Once I got the hang of there version of the sauce I tweaked it and made it my own.  The other recipes are a take off from some Chefs I have met through my course of life. I took what they taught me and made them my own.  Hope the instructions make since.  To be honest I have never written them down before, but I did this last time that I cooked them.  So i hope they work for all of you!
Fresh Garden Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce

- 3 large cans of tomatoes
- 9-12 garlic cloves
- Olive Oil
- 1 t. Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 sprig of Fresh Rosemary
- 1 handful of Fresh Basil
- Salt and Pepper to taste

In a sauce pan spread even olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan add red pepper flakes, turn the heat on and let it sit on medium heat as you chop up your onion and add it.  Let it saute till it starts to look transparent, using a wooden spoon to stir it.  Once your onion hits this stage add your chopped garlic to the pan and stir.  Let saute for a few minutes and add your tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

We grow our own tomatoes and then can them so this sauce is always super fresh.  So IF you dont have that option, then go to the store and look for cans of tomatoes that have an Italian brand, there a little more pricey but they make all the difference, just make sure its just tomatoes.  If you want to go the distance, purchase about 20 roma tomatoes and let them boil until there skin cracks.  Let them cool in a strainer and then peel off the skin.  Loosely chop up and add to the pan after you do the first few steps.  I often do this step... but its time consuming!

After the sauce has simmered for at least 2-4 hours add fresh chopped basil and rosemary, stir into sauce and serve!  You can serve this sauce after it simmers for 20 minutes, but the longer you let it simmer the better it tastes.

After you eat this you will never be able to eat bottled marinara sauce again...

Crispy Chicken Parmesan
Chicken Parmesan


4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
1 C. Fresh Parmesan Cheese grated
1/2 C. Italian Bread Crumbs
1/2 C. Panko Bread Crumbs
2-3 Eggs
1 1/2 C. Flour
1 pinch of Ground Red Pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 C. Canola Oil

In a frying pan add oil to medium high heat while you prep your chicken...

In 3 separate bowls,  add flour, salt, pepper, and red pepper to flour and stir in first bowl.  In the 2nd bowl beat eggs with a fork until mixed well.  In the 3rd bowl add Italian bread crumbs, Panko bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese, mix well and set aside.

Sometimes when i'm not feeling lazy I will put the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic and pound them out so there thinner, in which case I just fry them... but for the most part i just slice them into strips.

Take your first strip of chicken and dip in the flour mixture shaking it off.  Then dip into the egg next. 3rd roll around in the bread crumb mixture and press on the chicken making it stick well.  Set aside and continue these steps until all the chicken is done.

If you are doing the chicken strips pre heat oven to 350 degrees to let chicken finish off cooking.  To check to see if the oil is hot enough, take a little ball of the bread crumbs eggs mixture that you will have probably on your hands and drop it in your pan. If it floats and comes out golden brown your oil is ready.  If its not, then either heat it up more or turn down the heat.  I dont check temperatures, I just do everything that way.  But if you want to check temperatures then make sure its 325 degree F. Lightly fry both sides until they get golden brown.  Depending on how thick your chicken breast is is how long you will need to put them in the oven to finish off, so its always good to check.  But i usually put them all on a pan and let them cook while my noodles are boiling.

You can also add a fresh mozzarella cheese at this point and let it finish off in the oven.  Add fresh basil at the end if you want to garnish it, but we just like putting the sauce over it.  Sometimes, I like to add fresh rosemary to my bread crumbs, but note that im a HUGE fan of rosemary.

Rosemary Garlic Bread

1 Fresh loaf of french bread
1 Sprig of Rosemary chopped up finely
2-5 Cloves of garlic (depends on how much you like)
1 Cube of Butter

Preheat oven to Broil, and slice loaf of bread in half placing it on a sheet pan.

In a sauce pan add butter and let melt, add chopped up garlic and rosemary to pan and let the butter just get a hint of brown.  Then take it off the heat and spread it all over your bread.  Sometimes if I feel like it I add parmesan cheese on top as well. Broil until it gets golden brown, cut and serve!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Red Velvet Cake

This post is really late coming, but I was working on a Birthday party this past week for my sister and you will soon see why it's been awhile since I posted anything heres a sneak peak though...

For Mothers day this year, my parents and sister went to England and I was left to make dinner for my brothers that Sunday.  So I decided to make there favorite Italian dinner, and then in honor of my amazing Mother, I was going to make my Mothers favorite dessert which is Red Velvet Cake.

There is a history with Red Velvet cake for me... you see I've never managed to get this cake to turn out, its always been to dry or something else, so I have stopped making it ever since they made Red Velvet Cake mixes.  That being said, there never as good as the cake you can make from scratch.  So I decided that I would try one last time...  I have been reading a good friend of the families blog lately Purple Chocolat Home, and read about her Red Velvet cake recipe and decided to try it.  She always has the most amazing food, and I've never not liked a recipe of hers, so I made it, and i'm happy to say it was a total TRIUMPH!!!

So I used Jacqueline's recipe with a few tweaks that I learned along the way of making this particular cake. I'm not sure you need to do these steps, but it's automatic for me to do it this way...

Red Velvet Cake Recipe
(Makes 3 - 8 or 9 inch layers)

2 1/4 C. sugar
3/4 C. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 T. white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 T. cocoa
3 oz. red food coloring
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. buttermilk
3 3/4 C. flour
1 1 /2 tsp. vanilla
     Cream sugar and oil, then mix in eggs one at a time, beating
 after each one.  
     Mix vinegar and soda and set aside.
     Add cocoa and food coloring to egg mix (you can cut it to 
2 oz, but it won't be as vibrant of a red.)
   Beat in the flour alternating with the buttermilk.  Add soda 
mix and vanilla.  
     Line bottoms of 3- 8 inch pans with parchment paper.  Do
 not grease the pans.  Pour batter evenly into the pans.  Bake 
at 350 for 30 minutes or until springs back.

So here are my tweaks... 

I always sift the flour and salt together, and I never use anything but cake flour.

Instead of 3 oz. of food coloring I did 2 bottles, and then filled one with water and added that.

I always mix the cocoa and food coloring together and make it into a paste then add it to the mix.  It was just what I was taught so its the way I do it.

Last tweak, instead of mixing the vinegar and soda early on, I was always taught to wait until the end and mix it, and then fold it in after everything is added.  So after you add the vanilla, mix the soda and vinegar together and fold into the cake.  Then I put the cake into two 10" cake pans. I prefer doing the 3 layers, but I was feeling a little lazy...

Honestly, I highly suggest trying this recipe, everyone LOVED it and I cannot say enough good things about it!

The frosting recipe was an old family recipe given to my Mother by one of her best friends Mom.  We have always used this recipe and its the only way we like the cake.  Sometimes, this cake is made with a cheese cream frosting, and I could not hate it more.  I love this recipe, its the traditional rough recipe and if made right you will never go back.  The key to this cake is to follow the directions EXACTLY and measure EVERYTHING, and you will not go wrong!  (Also our family is weird and we love this cake after its been refrigerated for a day and the frosting is kinda hard.  You should also try this frosting on a dark chocolate cake with chocolate ganache in the middle its to die for!)

Red Velvet Cake Frosting

5 Tablespoon White Flour
1 Cup of Milk
1 Cup of Sugar
1 Cup of Butter
1 teaspoon of Vanilla
( I always do 1 T. of Madagascar Vanilla)

In a sauce pan cook flour and milk until it makes a paste stirring constantly.  Here is the key whisk it so that there are no flour chunks in it, and once it gets to a sticky paste consistency, I like to put it in a separate bowl to cool so it doesn't keep cooking.  If it gets hard, you have over cooked it and need to re-do it.  The key is to get smooth frosting, and you dont want little chunks of this paste in it. Once it becomes a paste set aside and let it cool so that it doesn't melt the butter.   Once cooled, in your mixing bowl add butter at room temperature and sugar and mix well.  Once fluffy, add vanilla and mix.  Next add flour mixture and beat on high until nice and fluffy.  It will turn white and look a lot like whipped cream, but heavier.  Once done, spread on your cake and refrigerate until ready to serve.  I typically double this recipe, I always have a little left over frosting, but id rather have extra then not enough!   

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Paris In a Cup

For my Birthday this year I decided that I wanted to discover a fun place to have High Tea in California.  There were many options to choose from but in the end, Paris in a Cup seemed like the best place to go...

So we started the day off at High Tea.  We found a lovely little place on-line in Orange County called Paris in a Cup.  From the outside it looks cute and inviting, but when you walk into the store, they have a fun little boutique that you can get some very unique things, along with there home made teas.  I highly suggest picking up the Marie Antoinette tea.  Its a fruit infused tea, that in my opinion, is the best tea I have ever had.  

When we walked into the parlor, the interiors were done in a classy style, with a soft color palet of golds and cream that gave the impression of a Parisian restaurant.  The menu was well planned, with fun french names for each dish.  I ordered the Marie Antoinette High Tea, and my Mother got the Juliette, that consisted of there famous potato soup and a crossant sandwich.  

The Marie Antoinette started with a tea of your choice.  I picked the Jasmine Green Tea, it tasted very fresh and florally, but I wanted something light and less sweet.  My Mother ordered the Marie Antoinette tea, and once I tasted that, I quickly finished off mine, and switched to it. It was sweet, but very aromatic and tasted like a fresh fruit drink... it was very delightful. 

My first course was two scones with apricot preserves and clotted cream.  The sugar scone was a vanilla bean and the other was lemon.  They were perfectly made, and had some of the best flavor I have ever tasted in a scone.  
The second course was there famous potato cheese soup, it was a very creamy soup with bacon, sour cream and chives on top.  It was really wonderful and creamy and served in a little tea cup.  
Next, they brought out the third course which consisted of a petit salad with ranch dressing and a few tea sandwiches.  The tea sandwiches were really well made with great flavor to them.  There was an egg, cucumber, quiche, and chicken salad. 

Last they brought out there petit fours which surprised me considering how everything else came out traditionally, these were a little different but still very tasty all the same.  Typically petit fours are little tea cakes, which ill make for my two up-coming tea parties, Alice in Wonderland Tea Party, and English Garden tea party so you can see them.   What they served was a lemon bar, Carrot Cake, and a little chocolat mouse in a chocolat tea cup...darling to say the least, and all tasty. 

Last we decided to order there tropical macaroon cookies.  Which were amazing and fun to try.

In the end if you have the opportunity to visit and spare an hour, I highly suggest it.  The service was wonderful, the food exceptional, and the place was a perfect little retreat to let your mind escape to Paris.  

That night, I got to finish off my birthday celebration with my family at PF Changs in Santa Monica with my Brother who lives there, my other brothers and my Dad who's birthday was the next day, hence the two desserts.  My wonderful Mother bought me the most amazing things from my favorite stores, and of course she let me get Sprinkle Cupcakes for my birthday cake, which my sister and I have deiced are the best cupcakes out there!  Heres to another year, lets hope its the best one yet~