Wednesday, April 8, 2009


It's lunchtime and I've just spent the morning on my hands and knees (on tile, mind you) painting the baseboards in the living and dining rooms. It looks so fresh and clean that I am encouraged to keep going, but I'm starving and the last thing I want to do is cook something for lunch. Pasties to the rescue! I make these warm, flaky delights ahead of time and keep them in the freezer. A well-balanced, warm lunch is ready in 30 minutes (spent in a 350F oven, so I don't have to do a thing).

Pasties can be filled with anything from fruit pie filling for a sweet dessert or with any combination of meat, veggies and cheese. First, choose and cook your meat. I prefer ground beef, turkey, buffalo or elk.

Then I quickly cook whatever greens I have on hand (a great way to use them up) in a hot pan with a little bit of olive oil and freshly minced garlic. I have found spinach, bok choi, tat soi, beet greens, chard, or mustard greens all work well. I also like to add in potatoes, onions and cheese. I basically use whatever I have on hand, especially when I notice our greens to be getting away from us quicker than we can devour them.

Next, comes your choice of seasoning. Your basic Italian Seasoning goes well with anything and crushed red peppers add a little kick.

Lastly, I recommend pie dough for your wrapping material. I have tried all kinds of dough ranging from flaky to buttery and everything in between. Pie dough is easiest to work with (pinches together well) and is the tastiest. Simply divide your 9" pie dough into 4 sections. Add a small amount of your filling mixture to the center of each quadrant. Fold one corner over the filling and pinch to the opposite corner. Use your fingers to pinch along both open sides. Space each assembled pastie onto a cookie sheet and place in the freezer.

After a couple hours, you can transfer them to a freezer-safe baggie (I use the gallon size). Freezing them this way prevents them from sticking together and then falling apart when you want to take a few out.

To prepare from the freezer, simply take out however many you need and leave the rest in the freezer. Place the pasties on a baking sheet (I use a stone) and place in a cold oven. Set the oven to 350F and the timer to 30min. Walk away and when the timer chimes your return, let them cool slightly before you dive into the golden-brown goodness.

Speaking of which, it's my turn!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Choosing Sustainable Seafood

I'm sure we've all heard that our oceans are being over-fished. We've also all heard the incredible health benefits to adding seafood to our diets. So, how do we have the best of both worlds? How do we enjoy a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein and minerals without harming our oceans? We need to be knowledgeable and picky about where our fish is coming from and what it takes to get it to our plates. Monterey Bay Aquarium has formed the Seafood Watch program to help consumers and animal-lovers do just that.

According to their website, Seafood Watch is described as "a program of Monterey Bay Aquarium designed to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources. We recommend which seafood to buy or avoid, helping consumers to become advocates for environmentally friendly seafood. We're also partners of the Seafood Choices Alliance where, along with other seafood awareness campaigns, we provide seafood purveyors with recommendations on seafood choices." Their mission is to "empower consumers and businesses to make choices for healthy oceans."

From regional pocket guides showing the good, bad and ugly choices for purchasing seafood to simple ways to encourage your favorite restaurants (even sushi!) to join the sustainable force, Seafood Watch offers a whole slew of information. They even have a growing list of restaurants whose seafood menu is entirely sustainable. Did you know Google Earth now lets you dive into the oceans, too?? I can't wait to check out this new feature!

The bottom line: While all this information may feel overwhelming, just follow the pocket guide for your region. Purchase/order foods shown in the green and yellow categories and, for now, avoid the foods in the red category. By supporting sustainable, natural fishing, we will encourage those in the red category to step up to the plate.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Let the Fooling Commence!

Today is the type of day that will bring out the prankster in all of us. Just remember that good pranks should inspire laughter (not just by you, but by everyone involved) and not bring harm. Below are a few of my favorite April Fool's surprises. Husband may find himself experiencing one or more of these today...sssh!

Bathroom Bankroll

Model Parent

Surprise Balloon Swarm

Detach the shower head and sprinkle in some colorless koolaide, then reattach. Hmmm, this water tastes fruit punch!

If you are electrically savvy, you can switch the wiring that controls the on/off feature of light switches. Flipping the switch upwards to turn the light off will cause delightful confusion, especially if you change it back to normal and back again, repeatedly.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Kickin' Calamari

We did it! Aaron and I have finally figured out how to more naturally prepare one of our favorite appetizers of a local restaurant. Our rendition of this sweet and spicy fried calamari on a bed of carrots, cabbage and spring greens follows below. This is such a fun meal to prepare together. Grab your fave cooking pal and create an assembly line for preparing the calamari. It is a great way to catch up on life while cooking a delicious, unique and colorful meal.

All of the 'salad' ingredients came from our local CSA. The honey was a fabulous find at our nearby farmer's market. The calamari I had to purchase frozen from the grocery store (Oh, how I wish AZ had ocean-front property!).

Baby Spring Greens mix
Purple Carrots
Purple Cabbage
Calamari (fresh is best)
Bread crumbs, plain
Olive oil
Hot Chile Pepper Honey***you must have this!

Slice the calamari hoods to form rings. Tentacles are usually fine the way they are. If they are not already bite-sized, make 'em be. Dip your calamari piece by piece into the whisked egg, then cover with bread crumbs and place in a very shallow puddle of hot olive oil. Flip it over once it is browned on one side, allow the other side to brown and then remove to a layer of paper towels. Repeat until all the calamari is cooked. Use the paper towels to remove excess want 'em crunchy.

Make your bedding of greens by chopping your cabbage, salad mix and carrots like you would do for any salad. Layer the crunchy calamari on top. Drizzle with the spicy honey and give the whole dish a gentle warming in the microwave. It is ready to serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Leprechaun Hats

Happy St. Patrick's Day! So I got a little festive today, broke out my cake decorating set (first time!) and made these little leprechaun hats. I got the idea from A Feathered Nest. She is so creative and talented! I definitely need more practice and a smaller tip for piping the bows. They will cure any chocolate craving though.

I just love St. Patrick's Day! Simple, down-home traditions make this holiday one of my favorites. Irish Bread is the best part of the whole day so, of course, it is saved for last! The corned beef for tonight's dinner is simmering away...I think the house will smell fabulous when my in-laws get in tonight.

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!