Riding the wave

No other state shouts organic! louder than California; a fact I discovered on a recent trip to San Diego.

The trend toward restaurants serving organic foods or the sale of organically grown foods in grocery stores is not new by any means. But because California is the leading agriculturally productive state in the country, no wonder it boasts the largest number of organic farmers.

I’ve experienced first hand the difference in freshness of taste from organically grown artichoke pizzas to fish tacos topped with fresh guacamole to the unusually sweet blood orange juice served in trendy California establishments.

Unlike here in Pittsburgh, Pa., the word “organic” on the west coast is just as common place as the wet-suit clad sufers who dot the Pacific on any given day from sun up to sun down.

Since I will not be joining these wave worshippers any time soon, I’ll ride the wave of another growing lifestye trend– searching out and consuming anything organic.

In honor of Califronia being the largest (I think maybe the only) producer of artichokes, here is a recipe for a Marinated Artichoke, Ham and Provelone Panini ( I’m still in love with my panini grill!)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 slices ciabatta bread, or other rustic Italian white bread, thinly sliced
6 ounces thinly sliced provolone
1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and sliced
2 ounces thinly sliced genoa salami, or ham of your choice

Whisk 6 tablespoons of the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl to blend. Arrange the slices of bread on a flat work surface and, using a brush, divide the vinaigrette equally among 1 side of each slice. Divide the provolone equally among the bread slices. Top 6 of the slices of bread equally with the sliced artichoke hearts and sliced genoa salami and then place the remaining 6 slices on top. Brush the outsides of each sandwich with some of the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.Heat a grill, large skillet or grill pan over medium heat.

Add the sandwiches and cook until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, pressing occasionally to compact with a large spatula or the bottom of a heavy small saucepan, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Or, if you’re lucky to own a panini grill place on grill and press according to instructions, about a total of 2 or 3 minutes.

Remove the sandwiches from the grill, cut in half and serve.

Published in: on February+00:00bWed, 27 Feb 2008 20:03:34 +0000000000Wed, 27 Feb 2008 20:03:34 +0000pmWed, 27 Feb 2008 20:03:34 +000008 9, 2008 at 2:20 p02  Leave a Comment  
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Meatless Fridays

During my childhood, since I was raised Catholic, we always had a meatless dinner on Friday nights. The Lenten season, spanning six week from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday banned any form of meat from our table on Fridays only. I recall those countless tuna noodles casseroles, fish sticks and mac and cheese, salmon patties and tater tots….is you mouth watering yet?……served up by my mom.  Oh, and that was the night we had two vegetables.  A kids dream meal, right?

Fast forward several years, (ahem!).  I do not observe that rule any longer, but I do enjoy seafood over red meat these days.

I’m including this recipe for my friend Denise, though she says she doesn’t read blogs, will have to read today’s post.

My mother used this while she was on WeightWatchers many years ago, don’t know why she never served it to us!!

You can use any white flesh, mild fish…flounder, talapia or my choice, orange roughy,

Place four pieces in a prepared baking dish.  Pour 1/2 cup orange juice over the fish.  Season with salt, pepper, minced fresh garlic. 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley.  Dot with butter or margerine.  Top with Seasoned bread crumbs.  Bake in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or till fish flakes easily.  Do not serve with tater tots!!   Enjoy!

Published in: on February+00:00bFri, 22 Feb 2008 13:20:44 +0000000000Fri, 22 Feb 2008 13:20:44 +0000pmFri, 22 Feb 2008 13:20:44 +000008 9, 2008 at 2:20 p02  Leave a Comment  

Best Book Ever

Remember those dreaded book reports we had to write in English class? Well, here is one report that I’m thrilled to turn in. (and I’m not through the book, yet!)

I’m reading a book recommended by my Pastor at APC, Pastor Jeff, which he mentioned twice on his blog. So far, it’s living up to his “two thumbs up” review. In The Best Question Ever, Andy Stanley delivers a life changing principle via a question that you can’t afford not to apply to your decision making.

Covering the area of self deception, this is what he says, “You don’t sit around looking for reasons to do the right thing; it’s the bad decisions that require creative thinking.”

Go ahead, read that again.

Recognizing the areas of our lives that lead to avoidable problems is the first step to winning this competition called Life. Life is filled with loss, regardless of whether or not we’re living in the will of God. The worst thing we can do as followers of Christ is add to the unavoidable hardships of life by living outside His will. Nurturing a daily relationship with Him through prayer and Bible study, fully engaging in the church, and intentionally pursuing accountability relationships with other believers who will challenge us to grow are at the core of what it means to win.

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 1Corinth. 9:24.

The Best Question Ever is a gem of book. Thanks, P. Jeff

Published in: on February+00:00bThu, 21 Feb 2008 12:32:45 +0000000000Thu, 21 Feb 2008 12:32:45 +0000pmThu, 21 Feb 2008 12:32:45 +000008 9, 2008 at 2:20 p02  Comments (2)  
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Back to Reality

I woke up this morning earlier than usual. To my surprise, I didn’t need my usual nonfat, extra-hot, vanilla latte for inspiration. I try to write daily, early enough before my mind goes blank, but today, unlike every other day, words rushed and flooded my mind like the white-capped rapids of Ohio Pyle. “What a bonus!” I thought. Words, ideas vivid mind pictures, all the above miraculously and literally at my fingertips. I tripped and stumbled to my computer. Wow! Let me at that keyboard! If you don’t write, maybe this is not making any sense to you. But if you do, well, just give me a high five!! My creative juices flowed and filled page after page….a story emerging, descriptive prose beautifully becoming a story, no, a novel, no, the epic of the century!!!! Then, I heard the nagging, relentless eehh, eehh, eehh of my alarm clock. Geez! A writer can dream, can’t she? How fast can I make it to Starbuck’s?

Published in: on February+00:00bWed, 20 Feb 2008 13:59:50 +0000000000Wed, 20 Feb 2008 13:59:50 +0000pmWed, 20 Feb 2008 13:59:50 +000008 9, 2008 at 2:20 p02  Comments (2)  
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Panini Paradise

I love everything about cooking. Especially the numerous time-saving gadgets and appliances on the market for the well equipped kitchen. I can spend hours in William-Sonoma or Sur La Table and often do! The most recent object of my affection (thanks to Santa) is my new panini press/grill. You cannot believe the various delicious sandwiches that can be created on this nifty little kitchen helper. For those of you who just landed on the planet earth, a panini is an Italian grilled sandwich filled with any combination of meat, cheese and condiments to you liking and then pressed between a grill similar to a waffle maker. My favorite so far is the Turkey/Apple/Brie sandwich. Here is the recipe, enjoy! (Don’t worry, you can still make it the tried and try method used by my resourceful father. Just wrap a 4×8″ brick with alum. foil and use it to weigh down the sandwich as you grill it. It works just fine!)

Use any firm, crusty bread…Italian, sourdough, French baguette.

Brush the outer slices of bread with olive oil. Spread the inside with mango chutney, or whole cranberry sauce, your preference. Fill sandwiches with thinly sliced or shredded granny smith apples, turkey breast, and a slice of brie cheese. Close sandwiches and grill as directed on press or with your foil covered brick till golden brown.

Good-bye to ho-hum grilled cheese!!

Published in: on February+00:00bTue, 19 Feb 2008 01:59:56 +0000000000Tue, 19 Feb 2008 01:59:56 +0000amTue, 19 Feb 2008 01:59:56 +000008 9, 2008 at 2:20 p02  Comments (1)  
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Flip-flops in February

How many of you are wearing flip-flops today?

Isn’t it great?!! Not even spring and my toes are exposed! I’m just thrilled to be in Hilton Head, where snow is a foreign phenomenon. Been loving the mild weather as I read about friends and family left behind in the” winter wonderland” of Pittsburgh, Pa. Two more weeks and I guess I’ll be donning a heavier jacket, gloves and possibly boots again, YIKES!!

But until then, I’ll enjoy the sun on my shoulders and my toes in the sand when I flip my flip-flops off……

Published in: on February+00:00bFri, 15 Feb 2008 15:39:45 +0000000000Fri, 15 Feb 2008 15:39:45 +0000pmFri, 15 Feb 2008 15:39:45 +000008 9, 2008 at 2:20 p02  Comments (1)  

Apple Cake

Apples are considered the perfect food, after all, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. God’s word is the perfect food for our spiritual well being. His daily bread nourishes our souls and keeps us balanced and connected to him. This recipe keeps me connected to my mother and a childhood filled with good food, and a loving home.
Here is my mom’s fresh apple cake recipe:
3 eggs 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 2/3 cups sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup oil 2 cups sliced apples
1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups flour
Beat eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla together in mixer. Add flour, soda, pinch of salt and cinnamon and mix till well blended. Stir in apples and nuts. Spread in either prepared bundt pan or 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes. Cool and dust with powdered sugar. Serve with french vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with cinnamon.
Published in: on February+00:00bSat, 09 Feb 2008 20:50:17 +0000000000Sat, 09 Feb 2008 20:50:17 +0000pmSat, 09 Feb 2008 20:50:17 +000008 9, 2008 at 2:20 p02  Leave a Comment  

It’s Time to Take a Bite

Okay, after waiting,  pondering, fretting, hesitating and agonizing over this decision,  I though it was time. I spend a considerable amount of time on the Internet reading other blogs, commenting, doing research for my book (hey, this is a great advertising tool!), searching out recipes, why not have a blog of my own?

 I decided that my theme will be two fold— celebrating who I am in Christ Jesus, the apple of His eye, and my love of anything to do with food; cooking, baking, exploring and creating new recipes (an Italian gene, I inherited). Soooo….. here goes!!




Published in: on February+00:00bSat, 09 Feb 2008 20:08:44 +0000000000Sat, 09 Feb 2008 20:08:44 +0000pmSat, 09 Feb 2008 20:08:44 +000008 9, 2008 at 2:20 p02  Comments (1)