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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Aprons!

This cute little apron is made of a %100 light weight cotton. It is a simple reversible style featuring pockets on both sides. For an elcectic feel I chose a feminine floral print in Blues and Yellow, lined with a vintage European print, and finished with a bubbly navy/white Polk-a-dot. Nothing makes me happier then putting on something beautiful when headed for the kitchen. Okay, well maybe a delicious home cooked meal to follow would make me pretty happy too. Keep a lookout for more aprons to come!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Abigail Smocked Dress

Another smocked dress! This dress has a more flirtatious feel then the 'Ashley' dress with an added ruffle at the bottom. As mentioned in the directions of the 'Ashley' dress, these dresses can be any length. Ruffles are a great way to add length and a little flare.
Follow steps 1-10 on 'Ashley' dress. To make a ruffle, measure fabric double width of the hem. Sew two pieces together if you have to, and hem one edge. Baste along undone edge. Gently pull thread to gather ruffle. Once ruffle has been gathered, pin to dress. Sew ruffle onto the dress and continue with steps 12-14. Voila, you have a new dress!

Personalized Cards


Old magazines make for great Sunday projects, like making personalized cards for any occasion. I started making collages out of old magazines in my early twenties. Since then I have created some incredible pieces of art that bring a smile to any face.
All you need is some old magazines, scissors, glue stick, card stock, and you can make a card for any occasion.



The Ashley Smocked Dress

It's been awhile since I last posted anything. My poor blog has been neglected and I can't even say I have an excuse. So What have I been up to? Sewing of course!
After reading an article on smocking, I couldn't resist trying it for myself. The technique is simple, and no, you don't need a special sewing machine to do it.
When my best friends birthday was just around the corner, and a baby girl on the way, I thought surely she needed something cute and comfortable to wear. Needless to say this is were this dress got it's name, the Ashley dress. This style is very versatile as a cool and comfortable summer dress. Pair it with a bright color cardigan and some fun jewelry for a fresh summer look.

All you need is about a 1 1/2 yards of light weight cotton fabric, elastic thread, and contrasting all-purpose thread.

1. Make sure to pre-wash all fabrics to avoid shrinkage.
2. Wind a bobbin with elastic thread.
3. Thread machine using contrasting all-purpose thread.
4. With right side up, sew along salvage (the long side) in a straight line. Use the edge of the foot as your guide.
5. Repeat step 4 until you have 15 lines.
6. Lay fabric out and press smocking with a hot iron. Fabric will gather and shrink.
7. With right sides together, fold in half.
8. Pin along the edges allowing a 3/8th seam allowance.
9. Try on dress and adjust as needed, cutting off excess as necessary.
10. Measure for length. Cut to desired length allowing for 3/8 seam allowance. (For a longer dress, you may need to add fabric, like a ruffle. See the 'Abigail' dress)
11. Hem bottom of dress.
12. With right sides together, sew up the dress.
13. Finish seam with a zig-zag stitch and cut off excess.
14. Turn right side out and it's ready to wear!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing & Buckwheat Zucchini Pancakes

Strawberry season is finally here! Every year this sweet, juicy heart shaped fruit is very much anticipated. Strawberries make a great accompaniment to just about anything sweet and are great in salads too.
This salad is full of fresh strawberries, grilled chicken, feta, toasted hazelnuts, and drizzled with a rich and creamy poppy seed dressing. To add even more to your plate are a few fluffy dollar pancakes made of buckwheat and fresh grated zucchini. These little pancakes are perfect for soaking up the leftovers.
Prepare for an afternoon luncheon with a few of your favorite girlfriends, or a light supper.

Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

8 cups fresh spring green salad mix
12 fresh strawberries, halved
12 ounces grilled chicken breast, chilled
4 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, chopped
4 tablespoons crumbled feta
4-8 tablespoons Brianna's Rich Poppy Seed Dressing

Divide fresh greens among four plates. Top with grilled chicken and strawberries. Drizzle each salad with Poppy Seed dressing and top again with hazelnuts and feta. Serve chilled with warm Zucchini Pancakes (recipe follows).

Buckwheat Zucchini Pancakes

3/4 cup Buckwheat Pancake mix
1 cup zucchini, shredded
1 egg
1 cup low fat milk
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
dash of sea salt

Preheat griddle to 400.
In a mixing bowl add pancake mix, and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl whisk together egg, milk, water, and olive oil. Pour into pancake mix; stir until well combine and not lumpy. Add shredded zucchini and mix.
Pour pancake mixture onto griddle making dollar sized pancakes. Brown and both sides. Serve warm with salad.




Friday, May 8, 2009

Breakfast Pizza

Greasy, left over Pizza for breakfast is a thing of the past in my adult life.
As I have mastered the science of homemade crust and layering of flavors over the years, the time has finally arrived to recreate this delicious childhood memory into something more palatable.
This pizza offers an entire meal in one, with rich flavors of cheddar, Parmesan, farm fresh eggs, and smokey bacon. Not to mention a healthy twist of spinach and a rich tomato sauce on a homemade whole wheat crust.
If you don't have the time, or you intimidated by the time consuming process of preparing your own pizza dough, whole wheat crusts are more readily available in grocery stores then ever before. Be creative by layering your breakfast pizza with ingredients from your favorite omelet, like red bell peppers, onion, and sausage for example. Enjoy!

Breakfast Pizza
2-8' whole wheat pizza crusts (see recipe archives)
4 eggs
6 slices lean bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup red sauce (like marinara)
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup sharp white cheddar
1/4 grated Parmesan
pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly dust a cookie sheet with cornmeal to prevent sticking.

In large skillet, brown bacon until crispy. Drain grease onto a paper towel, crumble and set aside.

Layer crust with 1/4 cup each of the red sauce. Top with 1/2 the cheddar, and spinach. Crack eggs in the middle of the pizza (2 per pizza). Top with remaining cheddar, crumbled bacon, Parmesan and cracked pepper. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve with a side of fresh fruit for breakfast.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cooking with the Seasons

I just wanted to share with my fellow Foodies a fabulous site I found on the BBC website for seasonal food. Inspired by the movement to 'Go Green' and food inspired literature, I have decided to educate myself on seasonal and local foods that may help further reduce the impact on our environment.
Find meaning in this love for food, and Eco friendly novel "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kinsgsolver. Then keep up with whats in season by visiting http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/in_season/

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fried Green Tomato BLT



I came across these beautiful green tomatoes in the market just the other day. Never before have I had the pleasure to cook with them, so I was eager at the challenge to make something delicious. The first thing that came to mind was a classic fried green tomato and BLT. I am big fan of an occasional BLT, especially with Avocado. This Fried Green Tomato BLT is heavily breaded and served as the bun. Layered with basil mayo, lettuce, and smoked bacon. As they say here in Hawaii, it's ono kine grindz!
Just for the record, I wouldn't say this is the healthiest dish I have ever made. However, no ones perfect. A healthy diet always has room for a little rebellion.

Fried Green Tomato BLT

2-3 large Green Tomatoes
1 cup cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup low fat milk
salt & pepper
8 slices lean bacon or turkey bacon
4 leaves Green leaf lettuce, rinsed
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon basil pesto
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

Prepare basil mayo by mixing mayonnaise, basil pesto, and fresh basil. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick, 8 slices total. Season sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk and set aside. In another bowl, combine bread crumbs and flour, set aside.
In a large skillet, cook bacon until brown and crispy. Reserve bacon grease for frying tomatoes.
Dip each tomato slice in egg, then coat in bread crumb mixture. Repeat once more for a heavily breaded tomato, after all this is going to be your bun. Cook breaded tomatoes in greased frying pan over medium heat until golden brown on both sides. Set fried tomatoes onto brown paper bag, or paper towels to absorb grease.
Assemble sandwich using the fried green tomatoes as the bun. Spread with basil mayo, top with 2 slices of bacon per sandwich and leaf lettuce. Enjoy!

Serves 4



Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grilled Espresso Chicken with Moroccan Spiced Sweet Potatoes, & Braised Mustard Greens

I thought I might need to post something for all of my omnivore friends, or for those of you who are flexitarians like myself.
This recipe, for Grilled Espresso Chicken came to me a few years back when anything Espresso made my heart sing. On the back burner for quite some time, I pulled it back out of hiding for a dinner party just a few weeks ago and the arrival of my long awaited Espresso Machine. This chickens main ingredient 'espresso' is full of surprises when accompanied with rich flavors like brown sugar, and smokiness from the grill. Although you don't need an Espresso Machine to make it, you can also use double strength coffee.
This Espresso Chicken is paired with a mashed Moroccan Spiced Sweet potato and Braised Mustard Greens. Full of unexpected flavor sensations like sweet and smoky, slightly spicy and bitter greens. Enjoy!


Espresso Chicken

2.5 pounds chicken pieces, skinned & trimmed
2 cups espresso, or double strength coffee
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground mustard powder
1 large onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, whole
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

In a slow cooker, layer onions, garlic, and chicken. Sprinkle salt, ground mustard, and brown sugar over chicken. Slowly pour coffee over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Meat should be dark on the outside, white in the middle and slightly falling off the bone. Turn off slow cooker and preheat charcoal grill. Meanwhile, prepare Moroccan Sweet Potatoes and Braised Mustard Greens. Note that the sweet potatoes take about an hour in the oven as part of the preparation.

Once your grill is nice and hot, gently grill chicken pieces on both sides brushing them with left over marinade to keep chicken moist. Chicken will be very fragile and shouldn't take but a few minutes to get nice grill marks and a little smoky flavor into the chicken.

Plate chicken with braised greens and mashed sweet potatoes. Recipes follow.

Moroccan Sweet Potatoes

4 large yellow sweet potatoes
1 large lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes and cut ends off. Place on a cookie sheet, and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Remove skins and place in a large bowl. Mash sweet potatoes until smooth and slightly chunky, set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, cinnamon, paprika, cilantro and olive oil. fold dressing into mash sweet potatoes.

Braised Mustard Greens

1 large bunch fresh mustard greens, rinsed and chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup chicken stock
4 slice lean bacon

In a large skillet, brown bacon and set aside. Reserve the fat, there should be very little if you are using lean or center cut bacon. Saute the garlic in reserved bacon fat. Add mustard greens and chicken stock. Braise greens over low heat until greens are wilted.

Serves 4



Reduced-Fat Cherry & Dark Chocolate Cookies

These cookies were inspired by a recipe sent to me from my father, originally featuring a delicious Reduced-Fat Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. This cookie makeover demonstrated brilliant cooking techniques used to reduce fat while maintaining flavor. Immediately I was hooked, and couldn't resist playing with new flavors and while improving upon nutrition even more.
Instead of raisins, I used dried cherries. I also replaced the white flour with stone ground whole wheat, and cut the brown sugar from 1 1/2 cups to 1/2 cup. Of course, even though I reduced the sugar, I was really just making room for the rich morsels of dark chocolate. Full of flavor and wholesome goodness this recipe will have you addicted. Enjoy in moderation!

Reduced-Fat Cherry & Dark Chocolate Cookies

1 cup dried cherries; 1/2 cup whole, 1/2 cup finely chopped
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chunks (like 62% or higher)

Preheat oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In a small sauce pan, bring water and cherries to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, set aside and let cool. In a large skillet, melt butter and toast oats over medium heat until golden brown. Remove from heat and add cinnamon. Stir to coat the oats with cinnamon, set aside and let cool.

Once the cherries and oats are cooled down you are ready to proceed. This is an important step, otherwise you will be left with a gooey cookie dough and melted chocolate that just isn't good.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cherries (liquid and all), sugar, egg, and vanilla. Stir in oats, flour, baking powder, and salt. Lastly, add dark chocolate chunks.
Drop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 tablespoons per cookie, spacing them about 1-2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Serve warm with a glass of non-fat milk.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Coconut Crusted Tofu with Mango Salsa

Tropical flavors like mango and coconut are abundant here in Hawaii, and when it's hot outside and the trades are still, nothing is more refreshing than these local flavors.
With a little Asian influence came this dish. It is a play on the traditional Agedashi Tofu topped with some gourmet flare like mango salsa.
Enjoy!

Coconut Crusted Tofu with Mango Salsa

1-12 oz package firm tofu
1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoons Wondra flour
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
dash of sea salt
2 tablespoons Canola oil

Salsa:
1 ripe mango, diced
1 small carrot, shredded
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
dash of sea salt

In a mixing bowl combine mango, carrot, red onion, ginger, cilantro, and lime juice. Give a good stir and set aside.

Drain tofu and slice into five thick steaks. In a small bowl, combine coconut flake, flour, cornstarch, and sea salt. Coat each tofu steak in coconut mixture.

Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown Tofu on all sides until golden brown. Drain cooked tofu on paper towel. Serve warm with Mango Salsa.


Grapefruit Bars

These bars are much like a lemon bar but are much lower in fat and sugar. To make them even more unique, I have added a touch of fresh Rosemary to the crust, complementary to the naturally sweet ruby red grapefruit used in this recipe.

Grapefruit Bars

Crust:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
3 tablespoons cold butter
dash of salt

Topping:
1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon grapefruit zest
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoon Wondra flour

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 8x8 inch glass baking dish, set aside. In a mixing bowl combine flour, powdered sugar, chopped rosemary, and salt. Cut in cold butter using a a pastry cutter, until mixture is fine and crumbly. Press into pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare topping. In a mixing bowl whisk together grapefruit juice, egg whites, grapefruit zest, and sugar. Slowly whisk in Wondra flour.

Once the crust has baked for 20 minutes, remove from oven and pour grapefruit mixture over the top. Bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Once cooled, top with powdered sugar. Serve chilled.

Sparrow Stencil:
To make a stencil like I did (shown above), simply cut out your favorite shape using regular paper. Lay the shapes over the bars and lightly sprinkle powder sugar over the top. Using the tip of a pointy knife, pick up the edge of the stencils to remove.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Purple Potato Gnocchi with Parmesan Cream & Thai Basil

This past Saturday I rode my bike up to the farmers market for another causal shopping trip for local produce. This market seams particularly unique, compared to what I am used to on the mainland. Here you can find avocados the size of your head, and fruits and vegetables you've never even heard of. I always try to come home with something new. This weeks find was dollar bag of Peruvian Purple Potatoes and Thai Basil. These vibrant little potatoes intrigued me, while the Thai Basil with its green leaves, and purple flowers seemed to be a match made in heaven.
Using some basic ingredients and and traditional Gnocchi recipe my adventure began. I was on a mission to create Purple Potato Gnocchi with Parmesan Cream & Thai Basil.
For a complete meal, serve with Simple Farm Fresh Tomatoes (recipe below).


Purple Potato Gnocchi with Parmesan Cream & Thai Basil

1 lb. Peruvian Purple Potatoes
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 egg
Scant of sea salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 recipe Parmesan Cream
16 Thai Basil leaves, chopped

Wash and half potatoes. Bring six quarts of salted water to a boil. Boil potatoes for 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain potatoes and run under cool water until cooled slightly. Peel skins off using your fingers under cool running water. Place peeled potatoes into a small mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter, fork or potato ricer, mash potatoes while they are still warm until no lumps are detected. Let cool.
Whisk egg and pour over mashed potatoes. Fold egg into mashed potatoes. Adding sea salt and a little flour at a time, fold in flour gently until all of it is mixed in. Do not over mix, you want a light and fluffy mixture. Mound dough into a round ball and cut into eight pieces.
Find a clean work surface and lightly dust with more flour. Handling once piece at a time, gently form dough into the shape of a wide cylinder. Place your finger tips in the middle of dough, gently roll dough moving your finger tips outward forming a long even stick. Cut the dough into 1" pieces and set aside. Repeat steps with all eight pieces.
Bring a fresh 6 quarts of water to a boil with olive oil. Drop Gnocchi into boiling water. When they float to the top, their done! Serve with Parmesan Cream sauce and garnish with chopped Thai Basil and fresh ground pepper.

Serves 4

Parmesan Cream

1/2 cup low fat milk (I use Organic 1%)
1 cup grated Parmesan, packed
3-4 dashes Wondra Flour

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, whisk Parmesan into milk until melted. Whisk in 3-4 dashes of Wondra until thickend. Set aside and let cool slightly. Serve over Purple Potato Gnocchi.



Simple Farm Fresh Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a far cry from what they used to be. More often then not, store bought tomatoes are a pale red and almost white in color with no flavor. There is nothing like a vine ripe tomato that has been sweetened by the sun, and picked just moments before it reaches your mouth. It's rich red skin and sweet flesh. So when I came across these fresh beauty's at my local farmers market, I just couldn't help myself. It would truly be a sin to chop up them up and throw them into a boring everyday salad. Instead, these tomatoes are better enjoyed for what there are. Slice them into 1/4" slices, drizzle lightly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and a scant of sea salt for a simple yet delectable flavor.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pesto Madness

I woke up this morning and opened my fridge, only to realize that a gang of vibrant colored pesto's have taken over.
Little glass jars fume with intense aromatics and creamy goodness. Unique blends of herbs, nuts, and cheeses that I just simply can't get enough of. Pesto is a culinary fare that has taken the United States by storm over the years, and you don't need an Italian grandmother to tell you why.
The reason why I love pesto so much is for their pungent yet delicate flavors that complement a variety of dishes in place of the boring, and sometimes bland, dried herbs and spices of today. Pesto offers a fresh and clean flavor that is unmistakable.
The basic components to a good pesto is any combination of herbs, hard cheese, nuts, and olive oil. Dried fruit in combination with nuts and olive oil is another variation. Just combine all the ingredients in a food processor until you get a rich consistency that's spreadable and delicious.
Pesto stores up to a week in the refrigerator, or can be frozen for later use. When freezing, fill an ice cube tray with prepared pesto and freeze for easy measuring. If your pressed for time, don't forget that a variety of pestos are also available in grocery stores.
One of my favorite, and basic recipes for using pesto is Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli. It is one that I stumbled upon when trying to dress up a wrap for lunch one day. Its very easy and adds a burst of flavor to any wrap, sandwich, or burger. It can also be made with plain low fat yogurt instead of mayonnaise for a creamy sauce that is Delicious on pasta or your favorite omelet.

Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli

1/2 cups Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Sun-dried Tomato Pesto (Like Bella Sun Luci w/pine nuts)
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Chili Sauce

Stir all ingredients together until well blended. Store in the refrigerator for later use.




Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Brie & Grape Quesadilla with Edamame Gaucamole

Josh and I recently took a trip to Maui for a little R & R. The majority of our trip was spent indoors due to the bum weather, but we still managed to have a good time as we toured the sites.

One of the highlights of our trip was a little cafe off the beaten path called the Haliimaile General Store. The service was very friendly, and the food was exquisite. One of the dishes was a Brie Quesadilla with cilantro pesto, grapes, and served with a side of sweet pea guacamole. Need I say more? That was just one dish of many flavorful spreads the cafe had to offer.

Since that meal, I have been kicking myself for not buying their cookbook and cannot stop thinking about the food. Going out on a limb, I tried my hardest to recreate it solely using my own creativity and foodie palate. Instead of sweet peas, I used edamame and avocado for the Guacamole, and threw in some ginger for a sophisticated flavor.

Every recipe takes some mastering, but until then this one will have to do. Enjoy!

Makes 4 small Quesadillas

Brie & Grape Quesadilla with Edamame Guacamole
(Edamame Gacamole below)

8-7 inch flour tortillas (snack size)
4 tablespoon cilantro pesto (recipe below)
1-5 oz container Alouette Creme de brie
16 red seedless grapes, rinsed
Olive oil

On four tortillas spread 1 tablespoon of cilantro pesto on one side of each tortilla. Slice grapes in half and divide among the for tortillas. On the other four tortillas spread brie being careful not to spread it to close to the edge of the tortilla. This is so the brie doesn't leak out in the grilling process. Lay the brie tortilla on top of the clintro and grape side. In a frying pan over medium heat, lightly oil and brown each side of Quesadilla. Remove from pan and place on a cutting board to cool slightly. Cut into 4 pieces and serve with Edamame guacamole.

Cilantro Pesto

1 cup cilantro leaves, packed
1/2 cup unsalted macadamia nuts
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger
1 lemon, juiced
4 tablespoons olive oil

In a food processor, blend all ingredients together to form a smooth mixture. Refrigerate.

Edamame Guacamole


Edamame Guacamole

1-12 oz bag frozen Edamame, shelled and thawed
1 medium avocado
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup cilantro pesto
Red pepper flakes to taste

In a medium size bowl, mash edamame until slightly chunky. Add remaining ingredients and continue to mash until mixed thoroughly. Serve as as a dip or condiment.


Sunrise Tofu Scramble

This breakfast came about one morning when I had a hankering for eggs and completely ran out.
Surprisingly, it has become one of my favorites and is a lighter way to start my day.

Sunrise Tofu Scramble

6 oz Firm tofu, drained
12 stems asparagus, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled & grated
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon hot madras curry powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
sea salt to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Roma tomato, quartered

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil. Add grated carrots, asparagus, and bell pepper. Saute vegetables for 1-2 minutes. Push veggies off to the side of the pan. On the other side, add tofu. With a spoon, mash tofu so that its slightly chunky and resembles scrambled eggs. Sprinkle spices over tofu and fold all ingredients together. Cook for additional 1-2 minutes and serve with quartered tomatoes.

Serves 2

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sweet Potato and Arugula Pesto Pizza


In Hawaii, the sun encourages a bountiful array of crops all year round. However, some ingredients prove hard to come by in my neck of the woods. With a little soil, seed and water anything is possible, even if your porch is the size of a shoebox.

This year I decided to grow Arugula, a peppery salad green also known as Rocket. It is easy to grow and reseeds itself every year.

The most common use for Arugula is salads, but it also makes fabulous pesto. This recipe features a wholesome crust topped with sweet potatoes, mozzarella, and arugula blended with almonds, garlic, Parmesan, and lemon. Accompany with a fresh green salad, and you have a healthy casual meal.

I recommend making the pesto first. Be for warned, it makes a lot but you won't need all of it. The remainder can be used on your favorite pasta. When your done with the pesto, set it aside and prepare pizza crust. Good luck!

Crust
1-2 tablespoons honey
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Sea salt
extra flour for kneading
cornmeal for dusting

This dough is quick and easy, no rising is needed.
In a large bowl, combine honey, water and yeast. Proof yeast for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine flours and salt. Sift flours together with a fork. Whisk olive oil into proofed yeast and stir in flour. Stir until dough is slightly formed and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Flour a clean workspace to knead dough. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, and the dough is no longer wet. Be careful not to over knead, about 5 minutes. On a pizza pan, lightly sprinkle cornmeal onto pan to prevent the crust from sticking. Roll out dough into a large circle, about 1/2 inch thick. Using a fork, prick the the dough from the center out leaving an inch around the edge unpricked. This allows the thick crust to cook evenly throughout. You are no ready to start topping.

Arugula Pesto
2 cups fresh arugula, packed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup almonds
4 cloves garlic
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil

In a food processor combine arugula, Parmesan, almonds, garlic. Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil and pour into processor. Puree mixture until all components are blended and the mixture looks smooth. Set aside.

Pizza
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
Arugula Pesto

Preheat broiler on low, moving the oven rack to the top. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Place chopped sweet potato onto lined cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil onto sweet potatoes and lightly salt. Broil on low for 10 minutes. Toss sweet potatoes and place them back under broiler for another 8-10 minutes. Remove and set aside. Meanwhile, turn broiler off and move rack to the middle of the over, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Assemble pizza by spreading a good layer of arugula pesto onto prepared crust. Top with mozzarella, reserving some for an additional topping. Place sweet potato pieces onto pizza and top with remaining mozzarella. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing.

Enjoy!

Makes 1 pizza


Monday, March 2, 2009

Fresh Fruit Cups

These simple little fruit cups add the perfect freshness for any breakfast or brunch menu.
Suggested under my 'Oven Poached Eggs and Greens' recipe (below), presentation alone is enough to to get your mouth watering. Enjoy!

Fresh Fruit Cups

4 Ruby Red grapefruits, sectioned
1-6 oz package fresh blackberries, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons Pomegranate juice
4 sprigs fresh mint

Section each grapefruit by slicing away the skin to expose the whole grapefruit, skin off. Using a small pairing knife, cut out each section by slicing along the diving membrane. Be sure to remove any seeds.
Once your grapefruit has been sectioned, dived slices among 4 cups. Top each one with fresh black berries, pomegranate juice, and a sprig of mint. Chill until ready to serve.

Serving options: Add a little kick for those special occasions by spiking each fruit cup with a splash of Grand Marnier.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Symbolism Behind It All

Some of you know my love for birds, especially the sparrow. Hence the name and inspiration for my blog 'Sparrows & Oranges'. I would like to share with you why I believe the symbolism is a perfect marriage for my creative journey.
Sparrows are tiny birds, sometimes believed to be a symbol of good luck. They are also known to symbolize joy, creativity, simplicity, community, productivity, and friendliness. By association oranges are a symbol of health by stimulating appetite's and evoking wellness. Always nesting and foraging for food, these little birds and vibrant oranges, reminds us of the importance of home, family, and wellness.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Homemade Crackers with Red Pesto, Brie & Fresh Arugula

These crackers were inspired by a recipe in one of my favorite sewing books, the Alabama Stitch Book. The idea of baking fresh crackers intrigued me so much that I decided to experiment creating my own recipe. A few hours later came about this scrumptious mix of honey, sesame, almond, and sea salt. For my first homemade cracker they aren't bad. Flavors are wholesome and slightly sweet. Spread it with a sun-dried tomato pesto, brie, and fresh arugula for delicious appetizer or afternoon snack.

Homemade Crackers

1 cup whole wheat flour
6 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
6 tablespoons almond meal
3 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
pinch sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
Combine all ingredients and form dough into a square. Using a greased rolling pin, roll dough out onto cookie sheet. You want the dough to be rolled out pretty thin, like a wheat thin. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into even squares (about 2 1/2"). Sprinkle crackers lightly with sea salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until brown and crispy. You want them to be baked well so that they are crunchy like a cracker should be. Under baking will leave them chewy and no crispiness.

Toppings

'Bella Sun Luci' Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with Pine Nuts
Brie
Fresh Arugula