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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Lahem bil-Ajeen (Minced Meat, Tomato and Onion Bread)

This past Labor Day Weekend was spent painting (a very happy light lavender) and organizing my middle-schooler's bedroom.  By Monday, I was tired of grabbing food on the go and wanted to make something really good.  My high schooler requested Laham bil-ajeen.  

Laham bil-ajeen is Arabic that translates to English as 'dough with meat.'  It is a popular dish in Lebanon.  I like to refer to it as a cross between a hamburger and pizza.  (Yes, I can hear that collective sigh coming from the Lebanese community about at my descriptor.)

Monday, September 4, 2017

International Food Blogger's Conference 2017: September 29 - October 1

A few months ago, I was toying with the idea of returning to blogging after taking a hiatus.  One of the things that helped push be back to being an active blogger is the fact that the International Food Blogger's Conference (IFBC) will be in Sacramento September 29 - October 1.  Sacramento has gained fame for being America's Farm-to-Fork capital, so it makes it a natural fit to host the IFBC.    

Since I live in Sacramento, was a no-brainer for me to sign up.  I am registered and ready to participate!

I have agreed to publish at least three blog posts about the conference for a registration discount.  All opinions are my own (which is one of my favorite things about blogging!).  This is the first of three posts.  

I may not be very good at this food blogging thing, but I do have potential.  Or at least I think I have potential.  What do I have to loose from attending? A couple hundred bucks and a vacation day from my day job. What do I have to gain from attending?  So much!  The IFBC has a great program (check it out).  I am looking forward to:
  • Networking with other bloggers - very important for an introvert like me!
  • Learning how to make money from my blog. 
  • Embracing social media, which is somewhat difficult for this reserved Gen Xer.  
  • Improving my writing. 
  • Seeking opportunities that may be available for food bloggers.  
For those individuals coming to Sacramento, here is a list of restaurant recommendations from a local:
As well as a list of things to do in Sacramento (again, in no specific order):
It's not too late to register if you are interested.  Simply visit the IFBC's website for complete details.

I'm looking forward to meeting some new people in Sacramento!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Heirloom Tomato Tart

Summer is starting to come to a close as first marked by my kiddos going back to school (yeah!) and the upcoming Labor Day weekend.  It is going to be sultry hot this holiday weekend (in the 100s).  I'm really starting to look forward to the change of seasons to enjoy some cooler weather.   

One of my favorite things about summer is the tomatoes at the farmer's market.  We used to grow tomatoes in our backyard when our daughters were little.  Then my husband started planting trees - lots of trees.  He has 14 or 17 fruit trees in our backyard: pomegranate, loquat, kumquat, quince, fig and a variety of others.  That's some high density agriculture in a backyard that is the size of a postage stamp.  Needless to say, we don't have any sun for growing tomatoes anymore.  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Savory Pie Crust

Making pie crust from scratch has been a tradition in my family for generations.  I vividly recall my great-grandmother (my mother's grandmother) cutting excess pie dough from the circumference of the pie tin, placing the dough bits on a cookie sheet and letting me sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on them before baking them into delicious little cookies would burn our mouths because we couldn't wait for them to cool before devouring them.  My grandmother made her own pie crust and so did my mom.

Recently, I tried a savory crust which included some chopped chives. I was quite pleased with the result. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Blueberry Cream Scones

This past Saturday I had the good intention of making a lemon tart. I have loads of Meyer lemon juice in my freezer from a friend's bumper crop last winter.  I took a break from prepping my 7th Grader's room to paint next weekend to prepare a crust.  My 7th Grader wanted to help.  I couldn't say no.  Let's just say there was a little extra mixing and the crust didn't turn out flakey and tender.  Because I didn't want to use a subpar crust with Meyer Lemon deliciousness, I opted to fill the tart shell with a prepared lemon flavored instant pudding mix that was in the pantry.  

The tart didn't look too bad, but comments from around the table were less than kind.

"This is wretched and disgusting and disgraceful to humankind," was the statement from my High School Sophomore after taking one bite and overdramatizing how it was so difficult to swallow. 

"It's worse than store-bought!" exclaimed my husband while trying to control his laughter.

"I love you, Mama," was the reaction from my sweet, tender-hearted 7th Grader.  She doesn't want to see anyone get their feelings hurt (she didn't eat much of her tart, either).  She is the only caring and compassionate person in our house.   

The tart ended up in the trash with a thud.  I'll be the first to admit that most lemon-flavored foods taste the way furniture polish or floor cleaner smells.  

On Sunday morning, I asked my husband to stop by the grocery store on our way home from our weekly early morning trip to the farmer's market so I could pick up a couple of things to make blueberry scones.  I needed to redeem myself from my lemon tart fiasco and scones had been on the ask list for a few weeks.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Berry Trifle

England gets a bad rap for their contribution to world cuisine.  For those of you who have been fortunate enough to visit (or even live in) the storybook country, you may or may not agree with the stereotype.  I have been to England several times (for work and hope to return soon as a tourist) and I've had some really good food during my stays.    

One of the great desserts that England has given the world: Trifle.  Trifle is layers of custard and cake (often soaked in sherry).  Trifles are super simple to put together and can be made in a variety of flavor combinations.  My favorite, especially in the summer, is Berry Trifle.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

Classic Panzanella (Bread Salad)

Panzanella is a Tuscan salad that makes used of stale bread by combining with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and basil and a dressing of olive oil and vinegar.  Classic Panzanella makes great use of tomatoes in the peak of the season.  

We have just 'discovered' panzanella this summer.  Our family likes it as a side for grilled meat.  We have also made a more hearty Mediterranean Panzanella that we like as a main course salad.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pesto, Tomato and Mozzarella Pizzas

Experimenting with different pizza toppings is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen.  My recent experiment with Fig, Gorgonzola & Caramelized Onion Pizza had my 12-year-old somewhat troubled.  While not generally a picky eater, she must have sensitive taste buds.  She is hyper sensitive to strong flavors.  As soon as she could talk she would yell, "Spicy, spicy, spicy!" whenever we would brush her teeth with traditional mint flavored toothpaste.  Thank goodness there are bubble gum and fruity flavored toothpastes marketed to kids!

We have a tradition of making our own pizzas to our liking, so my daughter opted to build half of the eight doughs into Pesto, Tomato and Mozzarella Pizzas.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Individual Fig, Gorgonzola & Caramelized Onion Pizzas

Fig season is upon us, which may be an odd statement depending on where in the world you may be located.  I have mentioned previously that I grew up in Kansas and the only thing fig I had ever been exposed to was Fig Newtons.  After relocating to California (more years ago than I care to admit), I tasted my first fresh fig and I was hooked!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Basic Pizza Dough

I grew up eating more homemade pizza than delivery pizza - mostly due to logistics.  While traditional delivery pizza is OK on occasion, homemade pizza is one of my comfort foods. 

My college beau (who later became my husband) and I would order pizza on occasion and I would mention that I could make pizza.  

His response was a polite, "Don't worry about it, we can just order it." 

Finally I went ahead and made pizza using frozen bread dough as the crust.  "We'll never order pizza again!"  Was the comment from my beau.  I had shot myself in the foot.  What was I thinking?!?