Take it Outside

First, I have to say how happy I am about the Celtic’s win last night! What an incredible game! Yesterday was actually all around incredible. My sister-in-law, Kauna, is in town from Colorado and we are having a blast with her. Our morning started with a little bit of this:


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My new obsession– a Dirty Chai from the North End Caffe. My friend Christy turned me on to this glorious concoction. I would argue that the North End has the best Chai tea in the South Bay and then when you add a shot of espresso (to make it dirrrrrty), I am in heaven!

After breakfast, we decided to drive down to Laguna Beach to go on a hike. Aside from the killer ocean view, my favorite part of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is that there are several trails so even if you visit the park often, you are seeing new (and beautiful) scenery every time. We did some killer hills today and ended up hiking for about 3 hours.


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Hiking is easily one of my favorite ways to exercise. I love being outdoors and really enjoying everything this beautiful state has to offer. Having 2 of my favorite people with me just made the experience even better. πŸ™‚


xo,


Jenna

Making Substitutions

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So ever since I went on the No Biscuits and Gravy Left Unturned Tour, I have been obsessed with replicating my own version at home. Only one problem—I am really trying to eat only local meat (if at all) and I couldn’t find any local sausage. So, I went with the next best thing—veggie sausage. This one to be exact:


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I used this as my recipe but I saved some more time by using these:


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These little babies were delicious! Plus, they make a lot more sense for us because there are only 2 of us so I can pull a couple out then toss the rest back in the fridge.


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I topped my serving with an over easy egg because that is how I roll. A little hot sauce would have been the perfect addition. I will be sure to add that next time-and there will be a next time because this recipe was perfect! So delicious and filling.


xo,


Jenna

Obsession


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So as you know, I have a bit of an obsession with LA food trucks. I have documented my love for Buttermilk, Kogi, and most recently World Fare. However, there is only one truck that I must visit every week. Ladies and gentlemen meet my obsession: GET SHAVED!

Get shaved features the only shave ice that is as good as some of my Island favorites like Matsumoto’s. Most of the time when people say they are serving shave ice, you are left with a chunky, overly sweet treat. The perfect shave ice should contain ice that is so fine, it is fluffy. The syrup should taste like the real fruit, with just a tough of sweetness. Get Shaved is the real deal people.


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Luckily, this truck is always within a reasonable driving distance at least once a week. And because I am a reasonable person, I make it a point to go. The key is to get ice cream with your shave ice. Seriously–the vanilla addition makes the bottom taste like different flavored creamsicles.


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His: Pineapple, Passion Fruit, and Mango


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Hers: Blue Vanilla, Pineapple, and Passion Fruit


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We also both asked for a little bit of Li Hing Mui powder which is equally sweet, sour, and salty. So good!


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Off to go plan my next adventure! My beautiful sister-in-law is coming to visit today!


xo,


Jenna

Eating Green

I am a huge sports fan and being from the Boston area, I am a huge fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and of course the Celtics. Since the Celtics are playing the Lakers in the NBA Finals and I live in Southern California, I am really enjoying continuation of the historic rivalry. Add in the fact that I am a cheeseball, and you get lots of green food for the playoffs—both in color and preparation.


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Luckily, my CSA provided me with some beautiful, seasonal avocados. I watched Food, Inc. over the weekend and it is quite the game changer. If you have not had a chance to see this documentary, please do. Also, I would just like to add that Reg and I want the farmer they interviewed to be our friend. Love that guy! πŸ™‚

We are going to continue our research on where our food comes from but I will say this: my husband, who was practically committed to a McDonald’s diet at one point in his life (gotta love college), said he will never look at food the same way again. And we will most certainly be renewing my CSA subscription. If you are looking for one near you, I highly recommend checking out Local Harvest.

Okay back to the guacamole. As a kid I thought anything avocado was disgusting. I was a picky willful child who would have preferred to eat Macaroni & Cheese for the rest of her life. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love M&C but nothing compares to a ripe, buttery avocado. Once, I tried some fresh guacamole, it was love at first bite.

I use lemons instead of limes for the acid. It just gives it a more subtle flavor and really allows the avocados to shine!


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Jenna’s Simple Guacamole

8 Servings

2 medium-sized avocados (ripe)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 cup minced red onion (optional)

1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Dash cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Tortilla Chips, Carrot Sticks, etc. for dippers

1. Halve the avocados and remove the pit. Using a large spoon scoop out the flesh of the avocados and place in a medium sized bowl.

2. Use a fork to start chopping up with avocado.

3. Add the garlic, lemon juice, onions (if using), salt, and pepper. Continue to combine until guacamole reaches desired consistency.

Enjoy and GO CELTICS!


xo,


Jenna

Must Try

Good morning! I hope you are all having a fantastic week. Last night I saw The Lion King musical and I was just blown away. From the costumes to the singing, the whole production was phenomenal. I highly recommend seeing it if you have the chance.

So, a couple weeks ago one of my favorite bloggers, Mama Pea, posted a recipe for Tofu Ricotta Gnocchi and I am so excited to share the testing results with you.  The verdict? Un-be-lievable! And so easy!

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I was going to pair the gnocchi with a simple tomato sauce but then I decided I wanted to make my favorite tomato cream sauce. I am so glad I did too because it was the perfect accompaniment to the pillows of tofu heaven.


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While the gnocchi were cooking, I sauteed some Cremini mushrooms in a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper. After a couple minutes, I deglazed the pan with some beautiful Marsala wine just to deepen the flavor.


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Then I added a couple servings of this delicious marinara sauce from TJ’s


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And whisked in a couple ounces of the tofutti to make the perfect pink sauce.


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So delicious, so fresh.


Jenna’s Easy Creamy Marinara Sauce

2 servings

1 cup sliced Cremini mushrooms

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup Marsala wine

2 cups marinara sauce

2 ounces tofutti (or light cream cheese)


1. Pour olive oil into a medium sized pan and turn heat to medium-high.

2. Place the mushrooms into the pan so that they are even. Do not touch them for 2-3 minutes. Allow them to brown slightly. Then continue to stir for another 1-2 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.

3. Once the mushrooms are tender and sticking slightly to the pan, add the wine and stir until the mushrooms are coated evenly. Allow the mushrooms to absorb the wine. Turn the heat down to medium.

4. Then, add the marinara sauce. Once the sauce is heated through, add the tofutti and whisk until blended evenly and the sauce is slightly pink.

5. Serve over desired pasta or vegetable.

Favorite French Toast


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Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. And if I have to narrow it down even further, french toast would be at the top of that list. My family always jokes that because my mom ate so much french toast when she was pregnant with me that it became my favorite food! Now, whether or not that is true, I really want to share my french toast recipe with you. Since I was a willful (err…picky) child, I often refused to eat the wonderful meals my mother prepared and instead chose to make my own dinner, which was usually french toast. So, I have had 20-ish years of recipe testing this bad boy.



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The key to good french toast is good bread. Occasionally, I will make this same recipe with a nice slice of Whole Wheat bread but the real magic happens if you can find a good “eggy” bread. Any challah or Hawaiian sweet bread would be perfect. In this case, I used an amazing Cinnamon-Apple bread I found at the Farmer’s Market. Just incredible.


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Toasted walnuts, fresh berries, and a drizzle of maple syrup serve as the perfect summer toppings.



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French Toast

2 servings


4 slices of bread (Approximately 1 inch thick and either challah or Hawaiian sweet bread)

2 large eggs

2/3 cup 1% milk

1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

Lots of cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Earth Balance/Butter (for cooking)

Toppings: Maple Syrup, Strawberries, Toasted Walnuts etc.


1. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Soak each piece of bread in mixture for 2-3 minutes on each side.

2. Heat up griddle to medium-high heat. Add desired amount of EB/butter ( I used about 1/2 tablespoon) and allow it to melt completely. Turn heat to medium and add the soaked bread slices.

3. Cook until golden brown on each side. This should take about 3-4 minutes.

4. Serve immediately with desired toppings.


Now, I am off for a really busy day which includes plans to see The Lion King musical tonight! How was your holiday weekend?


xo,


Jenna

Life is Good

Happy Memorial Day!Β Reg and I are having the most fantastic weekend. Saturday, we had a fun party at my parent’s house, then we spent yesterday taking a walk at a the beach, trying out a new food truck, and seeing Shrek.

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Life is good.


So– I really want to share this new food truck with you. This restaurant is not new in general, just new to me. However, this is no ordinary truck. Instead, this is a double decker bus turned meals on wheels. The top portion is lined with tables and features covered umbrellas for the perfect shady spot to enjoy your food.


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The food is not your average fusion taco. Instead, they serve “bunnies” which are essentially little teeny bread bowls filled with either Short Ribs, Pork, Curry Coconut Chicken, or Veggie Chili. They are inspired by traditional South African street food and try to use as much local product and meat as possible. I love that!



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We ordered a Combo that allowed us to select 2 bunnies, fries/salad, and a cookie. Reg wanted the Short Ribs and I ordered the Veggie Chili. I did try a bite of the Short Rib and it was flavorful and moist (side note: I hate the word moist so for me to type it here…twice…I really mean it). The chili was good and filling. I loved the doughy bread part of the bunny the most. πŸ™‚

In addition to the bunnies we ordered a side of the truffled mac and cheese balls.


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Wow! These were amazing. Not too greasy but very creamy and the perfect size!



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The fries were pretty generic and I would probably skip them when I visit this truck next time.



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The spicy dipping sauce that accompanied the fries was tasty though!



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To drink, Reg ordered the Orange Lavender Tea and I sipped on a Strawberry Basil Lemonade. My beverage was probably my favorite thing I tried! Not too sweet with just a hint of fresh basil. The perfect drink for a hot day. Must try to make this at home!


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The chocolate chip cookie that came with our combo was chewy and buttery–my favorite kind of cookie!


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Oh and because I insist on trying everything on the menu, we ordered a Red Velvet Bunny. Think red velvet cake on the outside with vanilla bean cheesecake in the center. Yes, it was devoured so fast, this was the only picture I snapped.

Yes, life is good. Off to another adventure…

xo,


Jenna


Blood Orange Coconut Cupcakes

When I received some blood oranges in this week’s CSA shipment, I did not really know what to do with them. I love the flavor of citrus but I rarely eat oranges plain. I refused to waste them so I came up with what I think is that next best thing-a dessert! Cupcakes, no less!

These were perfectly light and refreshing. I brought them to work and they were gone in 15 minutes! Enjoy. πŸ™‚


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Blood Orange Coconut Cupcakes

12 Servings


1 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon blood orange zest

1/2 cup 1% milk

1/4 cup coconut milk coffee creamer (or another 1/4 cup milk)

3/4 cup unrefined sugar

2 tablespoons Earth Balance or Butter

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 egg

Cupcake liners

Orange food coloring (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the zest, milk creamer, Earth Balance/butter, agave, and egg.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Do not overmix. Add the food coloring if you desire a brighter orange cake.

4. Place cupcakes liners into the pan. Pour batter 2/3 way up.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for one minute and then transfer to wire rack for cooling.


Blood Orange Icing

1/4 cup light cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup Earth Balance or Butter, softened

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons blood orange zest

Unsweetened coconut flakes for sprinkling


1. Combine the cream cheese and butter. Add the blood orange juice.

2. Add the confectioner’s sugar 1/4 cup at time until well mix. Add the vanilla and zest.

3. Once the cupcakes are cooled, dip the top of the cupcakes into the icing. Sprinkle with coconut.


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xo,


Jenna

For Gingi

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This next recipe is for my sister Gingi (real name: Lindsey). Every year on her birthday she has one request–that I make Arancini di Riso. Making the arancini (also known as rice balls) can be a tedious process because it requires making risotto first, which as we know takes a while to make. Making the final product, though, is always worth the effort because my family really enjoys them and they are gone before I know it. πŸ™‚


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Leftover risotto is mixed with 1 egg, fresh bread crumbs, and parmigiano-reggiano cheese plus a little extra salt and pepper. I use my (very clean) hands to mix.


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Roll a portion of the rice mixture into a ball the size of a clementine.


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Meanwhile, I chopped some fresh mozzarella into small cubes. I highly recommend using fresh mozzarella here. It melts beautifully and tastes even better. So creamy and slightly salty…mmm



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Press a small cube into the center of each rice ball. Then, move some of the rice mixture over the mozzarella and roll the ball in your hands a few more times until it is nice and round.


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Like this. πŸ™‚


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Meanwhile, heat up some oil in a large pan until it is about 1 inch deep.


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Roll the rice balls in some more bread crumbs until coated evenly.


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Place in the oil and cook until browned evenly on all sides.


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Serve with your favorite store bought or homemade marinara sauce.


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And maybe a Strawberry-Avocado Salad.


Arancini di Riso

4 servings


2 cups leftover risotto

1 large egg

1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1 cup freshly grated bread crumbs

4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed

Vegetable Oil (for frying)

Marinara Sauce (for dipping)

Salt & Pepper


1. Combine the risotto, egg, cheese, and 1/2 cup fo the breadcrumbs.

2. Form small balls of the rice mixture (approximately the size of a clementine).

3. Press a cube of mozzarella cheese into the center of each ball. Cover the cheese with a bit more rice mixture and roll into an even, round ball.

4. Place the remaining bread crumbs in a small bowl. Roll each ball in the breadcrumbs to coat each one evenly.

5. Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan–about 1 inch deep.

6. Once the oil has reach 350 degrees, place about 5 arancinis in the oil and cook until browned evenly on all sides, about 5 minutes.

7. Place cooked arancinis on a plate lined with paper towels to drain a bit of the oil. Serve hot with a side of marinara sauce.


More recipes will be coming soon, including some Blood Orange Cupcakes that are incredible!


Now I am off to work on some new jewelry for an exhibition I am participating in on papersnitch. I am thrilled!


xo,


Jenna

Sweet Pea

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During the summer I usually find myself craving light, cool foods. However, the weather in Southern California last week was rather gloomy leading me to crave some warm and cozy. Then, when I saw that there were shelling peas in this week’s CSA, sweet pea risotto just seemed like a necessary meal!


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Reggie and I shelled a big bunch of peas while watching this week’s episode of Modern Family. So funny! My method of shelling is pretty simple and effective. I pinch off a piece of each end and then I slice along the indented ridge on one side of the pod. If you closely examine the pods themselves, there are two ridges. They appear to be identical but one is raised and one is indented. Make sure you slice along the right side otherwise the process will be much more challenging. Once the pod is opened, I slide all of the peas inside into a small bowl.


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Then I prepare my ingredients–mis en place if you will. πŸ™‚ This can be a bit tedious but trust me when you are making the risotto, you will be thankful you spent the extra time!


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After melting 2 tablespoons of the butter, I sautee the garlic for about 30 seconds. Then I add the rice to “toast” it a bit and deepen the flavor.


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Now, let’s talk wine! When it comes to risotto, it is true what people say about just using a wine you love to drink. Besides, you never use the whole bottle for the risotto so the rest can go…


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So weird! How did that get in there? πŸ˜‰

All kidding aside, you will need the wine at this point because for the next 25 minutes, you will keep stirring. RIsotto is not a particularly hard dish to make, just time consuming. Add small amount of stock, stir, and then once the rice absorbs that liquid, repeat! From my understanding, this process is what makes the risotto so creamy with such little butter or cream, because the starches from the rice are being released slowly.


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Sweet Pea Summer Risotto

6 servings


1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1 quart vegetable stock

1/2 cup good white wine (something you would like to drink!)

1 cup shelled peas

1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

2 teaspoons fresh garlic

3 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance

Salt & Pepper


1. Heat a large pan to medium high heat. Once hot, add butter/Earth Balance. Then, add your garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

2. Pour the rice into the pan and stir to coat in butter/garlic mixture. “Toast” for 1 minute.

3. Add white wine into the pot, stir, and allow the rice to absorb the liquid.

4. Once the wine is absorbed, keep adding 1/4-1/2 cup portions of vegetable stock to the rice mixture. Stir frequently to make sure rice does not stick. You will use almost the entire quart of stock but sometimes less. Cook until al dente.

5. Meanwhile, boil 3 cups of water in a separate pan. Blanch the peas for just 1 minute then transfer immediately to an ice bath.

6. Once the rice is finished cooking, add the peas, cheese, the last tablespoon of butter/Earth Balance, and salt and pepper to taste.

7. Serve hot–enjoy!


Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post, where I turn the leftover risotto into my favorite arancini di riso.


xo,


Jenna