Today I competed in the Loomis Eggplant Festival Cooking Contest and won 1st place with my (original recipe) eggplant dish: Crackling Eggplant Slices with Cheesy Aubergine “Butter”. The name is derived from the incredible texture of the breading, and I also used “eggplant” in the name twice without actually doing it. Aubergine is the word for eggplant typically used in old world Europe. I also used eggplant twice in the recipe. First, with the fried slices, second, with the eggplant “butter”/spread on the top.
The thing is though, I was the only participant in this year’s contest. So, while I was happy to take home the 1st place certificate, participant ribbon, and the $100 cash for winning, it did not feel all that special to win by default. I was surprised that absolutely no one else entered!
What felt great was walking in downtown Loomis, and seeing a few hundred people out having a good time. The weather here at the end of September/beginning of October is next to perfect, and there were lots of families taking advantage of that and having good old-fashioned fun at the festival. I wish my mom had been there with me today to see it, but she lives in Ohio and absolutely does not like eggplant!
The cooking contest organizer (Mary Jane Perkins) encouraged me to come back next year, and I certainly hope to do so, even though I am not sure I could top my creativity this year or back in 2008 when I made a CAKE with eggplant and won 2nd place.
Here’s my “winning” recipe from today. I hope you’ll try it for yourself. If you do, please let me know what you think.
Crackling Eggplant Slices with Cheesy Aubergine “Butter”
Appetizer Category (Serves 6-8)
1/4 Cup Mascarpone Cheese
1/4 Cup Cream Cheese
2 Tbs Butter
1 Roasted Eggplant with Skin Removed
You can prepare eggplant spread a day ahead of time. Slice an eggplant. lengthwise and drizzle it with olive oil. Roast in the oven at 425 for 45 mins and discard the skin. Scoop out the roasted flesh and place in a food processor with the mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, and sea salt. Pulse until completely blended. Set aside.
Fried Eggplant Slices:
1 Eggplant Sliced into Rounds
1 Cup Crushed Pork Rinds
1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup Almond Flour
Combine pork rinds, cheese, and almond flour to create the “breading”. You’ll want to place the “breading” in a shallow container that will allow the slices to be dipped in. Slice the eggplant into rounds and salt, laying on paper towels to allow the excess moisture in the eggplant to seep out for 10 mins.
Beat the eggs in a bowl and when the eggplant has drained, dip the slices into the egg, and then into the breading.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet to bake, or prepare the slices in the air fryer. 350° in the oven until browned, or 370° in the air fryer for about 10 minutes.
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
1/4 Cup Capers
Meanwhile, fry the capers in olive oil until they become crispy and drain. Toast the pine nuts in a shallow pan until they become nice and toasty.
Top each fried/baked eggplant slice with some of the spread, and garnish with the crispy capers and toasted pine nuts. Top with fresh dill. Serve.
I wrote the following a few weeks ago and sent to 19 different newspapers across California in the hopes it would be published as an op-ed piece in at least one of them (since it is a little long to be a letter to the editor). Of course, since the L.A. Times and the McClatchy rags are all pro-Newsom, it’s a little delusional of me to think I would stand a chance getting published. In fact, the Times and the Sacramento Bee sent me a rejection letter. And I was even rejected by two different editors (who I won’t mention by name) at the Sac Bee. I consider it a compliment.
Since I am a little impatient and time is of the essence, I decided I would use my own platform to publish my letter and use my own social media to push out, even though this blog and my audience is mostly interested in food, wine, and travel. Apologies in advance for this slight diversion. It will be over soon and I will go back to my normal content. Possibly from another state if Newsom is not recalled.
I have never been very vocal about politics in California, as I feel it is a losing battle. I am a registered Libertarian, and I am typically not liked (or trusted) by Democrats or by Republicans. I believe a lot of people in California say they are democrats or liberals because they want to be accepted by others. Most folks want to be looked at as “a good person” and someone who “does the right thing”. It’s a giant popularity contest in which I have no interest. You can clique-ity clack yourself on out of here. I do not care if I get canceled. I do not care if I am liked. I am completely used to being the freak, the weirdo, the outcast, the black sheep… But this time I am voting RED, baby!
So now it’s time for me to speak up if only for a moment. California, its residents, and virtually all of its small businesses are completely doomed if Gavin Newsom stays in office. He has FAILED our state on every level. If you care at all about the life you have now or had prior to his governorship, you will stand with me and vote “yes” on this recall.
-Kristy Harris, September 8th
My Letter to the Editor(s):
If you are voting “NO” on the recall, then this letter is not intended for you. You can skip to the next column or try your hand at today’s Sudoku puzzle.
I never thought much about our Governor until around April of 2020. Mind you, I did not help elect him in 2018, but I was supine and unsurprised when the “Gav Man” won the election. We are after all, a very blue state and apparently glutton for punishment.
I consider myself to be a reasonable person. So, when the “two weeks to flatten the curve” approach was announced, I was completely onboard to stay home (other than running outside for exercise instead of visiting my already shuttered gym). It was three weeks into the two weeks that I found myself looking at Gavin Newsom during his daily press conference with a bit of ambiguity. It dawned on me that he seemed to be enjoying the spotlight a little too much.
Many people turned on Gavin Newsom following his infamous dinner at The French Laundry in November of 2020, but my resentment towards him commenced all the way back in April of the same year. It’s around that time I realized the “State of Emergency” he had declared on March 4th, followed by the Stay-At-Home order on March 19th, was just a foothold on the way to declare himself king.
I was not fond of the way he began slinging executive orders like a pancake brunch cook (conveniently, while the Legislature was recessed for seven weeks). His 37 Executive Orders altered 175 state laws, completely sideswiping any of the lawmaking process.
My fury culminated on June 18th when the state-wide mask mandate was put into effect. Of course, make it mandatory to wear a mask right after you close a deal with China to produce them and profit from it. I’m only surprised the mandate did not specifically require N-95s, but maybe that would have been a little too obvious.
If I kept going on about why Gavin Newsom needs to go, it would prohibit me from telling you about the solution to him. That person is Assemblyman Kevin Kiley.
I have been following Kevin Kiley since June of 2020, over a year before he became a candidate to replace Newsom. It was at that time he and James Gallagher took Gavin Newsom to court and won, just one day before my birthday. For the first time, I felt like there was someone fighting for the people. I subscribed to Kevin’s blog “Capitol Quagmire” to get updates on the court cases, but really for entertainment purposes. Any person who could write so cleverly and deliver a weekly burn on the Governor was going to automatically gain me as a fan.
In January of 2021, Kiley wrote and published a book called “Recall Newsom, The Case Against America’s Most Corrupt Governor”. The book was released before Kiley had seriously considered running as Newsom’s replacement, and all the book’s profits went to the recall campaign. As I read over it, I can’t help but believe the man who wrote it must be destined to take the wheel.
Kevin Kiley is a graduate of Harvard (BA), Yale (Law Degree), and Loyola Marymount (Master’s in Secondary Education).
Before being elected to the State Assembly in November of 2016, Kevin was a Deputy Attorney General who represented the People of California in cases involving convicted felons. He has since authored legislation to protect victims of crime and support law enforcement. Assemblyman Kiley is ranked 100% by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association for his work in fighting new taxes and his support of Prop. 13. He does not take any funding from special interest groups, and he is the only 100% citizen-backed California elected official.
California needs a person who has already worked across party lines. Someone who will not forget the people who elected them. Someone who supports medical freedom of choice and upon election will immediately end the State of Emergency in California. Someone who knows good ideas don’t require force.
It was what Kevin Kiley said at a recent campaign speech that also got my attention:
“It’ll be back to basics. That will be the order of the day. Pave our roads, store our water, manage our forests, maintain our grid, fund our police, do the things government is supposed to do, do them well, and do nothing else.”
For non-Republican voters Kiley says, “Take a chance on change. If you don’t like the way things turn out, you can always vote for a return to corruption and racketeering next year.” I am a Libertarian, but still feel that Kevin Kiley is the appropriate choice to repair the hot mess that is current state of California.
It seems uncomplimentary to refer to Mr. Kiley as a waste management technician, but I am sure once elected he’ll be ready to take out the trash that is Gavin Newsom.
Assemblyman Kevin Kiley is the brightest, most qualified candidate for the job and will be able to go to work for all Californians on day one. I hope you will join me in voting YES on the recall of Gavin Newsom and voting for Kevin Kiley for Governor of California.
Curtis Park, Sacramento
August 29th, 2021
Zamir Gotta’s Peacemaking Happy Hour featuring his Zamir Vodka was held on July 16th at Easy Diner and Bar in Sacramento. Guests were treated to samples of his Russian vodka, Russian themed appetizers, and a question and answer session with the audience.
Zamir also took photos with several guests and auctioned off 3 autographed bottles of his peacemaking elixir. The following is a few snippets of video of the event, as well as some photos I cobbled together taken by myself and friends who were there. What a fantastic and memorable evening!
Special thanks to Elizabeth Barthel for the videos and taking the cover photo of this video.
Zamir Gotta’s Website: https://zamirgotta.com/
Zamir on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zamirgotta/
Zamir on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZamirGotta
Enjoy Zamir Vodka at Easy Diner & Bar:
1725 I Street, Sacramento, CA 95818
Easy Diner & Bar Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/easy.diner….
Easy Diner & Bar Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Easy.Diner.Bar
Do you love wine and art? I know I do! What a treat it was to visit Vannatta Winery and Gallery (located in Elk Grove, about 25 mins from Sacramento). In this episode of Table Talk with Kristy Harris, I interviewed Steve Vannatta, the owner and winemaker, and Liliana Rodriguez, the winery’s artist, wholesaler, and marketing manager.
Find Vannetta Winery online here:
And on social media here:
In a quest for authenticity in a world full of filters and special effects, I present to you today my makeup routine (before and after). This is how I do my makeup any time I leave the house other than to go to the gym or run errands (during which I don’t mind being seen au naturel). It’s in essence a makeover on a daily basis, although for my mental health, I try to build in a few days a week during which I go makeup free and accept the person in the mirror without any modifications.
A little background: It’s been nearly 20 years since I lost my hair to Alopecia Universalis. It began in spring 2002… I had a moderate to severe case of acne, mainly affecting my chin and jawline. The acne problem was painful, and I couldn’t mask it with makeup, so under a dermatologist’s care, I began a treatment of antibiotics. The drug regimen worked, but eventually I reacted to the drug I was taking (minocycline). I was admitted to the hospital in July and misdiagnosed with Lyme disease. The physician to which I was assigned prescribed doxycycline, and I was given it intravenously, which ultimately led to a more severe reaction. Once the IV was removed, I recovered almost immediately, and after another week, I was released from the hospital.
Three months later (October), I noticed the hair on my arm was missing, and then a few days later, my eyebrows and eyelashes started to shed. Eventually, the hair on my head began to fall out and by Christmas there was hardly anything left.
Links to the makeup and hair piece I used in the video:
Happy Monday! It’s a new week and time for a brand new episode of Table Talk with Kristy Harris!
In this episode, I interview the owner of Pinot’s Palette in Elk Grove, Stacey Van Lente. Pinot’s Palette is an upscale Paint and Sip destination in Old Elk Grove, just a short drive from Sacramento.
Join them for a perfect night out – enjoy drinks, music and hanging out with your favorite people while you paint! It’s as fun for first-time painters as it is for experienced artists. Their slogan is Paint, Drink and Have Fun!
Happy Wednesday! Just writing to let you know there’s a new episode of Table Talk with Kristy Harris available on my YouTube channel, and I am excited to partner with Zak’s Bar & Grill on their UNMASK-QUERADE event on July 30th!
For more details and to learn about their Zak Attack Burger challenge, tune in below.
In this episode, I interview the owners/staff of Sacramento’s newest restaurant, Easy Diner & Bar. They’re the same team behind the Bambi Vegan Tacos food truck. We chat about the food (there’s BOTH vegan AND non-vegan options) and drinks (full bar!) they offer, kitchen life, and the impact of late chef and travel journalist Anthony Bourdain.
Easy Diner & Bar is going to be hosting a special event on July 16th, from 5-8pm, featuring Zamir Gotta who was the former travel companion to Anthony Bourdain. Zamir will talk about his travels with Anthony and there will also be a Q&A. VIP admission ($40) is at 5pm, General Admission ($25) is 6pm.
Program will be 6:30pm-8:00pm. Two drinks of your choice are included with both ticket types.
Peacemaking Happy Hour with Zamir Gotta TICKETS:
Easy Diner & Bar Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/easy.diner.bar/
Easy Diner & Bar on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Easy.Diner.Bar/
Learn how to make my killer (and healthy) sweet potato salad recipe (that happens to also be PRIMAL!) and pair it with a 2018 Owl Box Pinot Noir from Grocery Outlet.
3 to 4 medium-sized white sweet potatoes, peeled cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp yellow mustard
Dash of paprika
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (optional)
4 slices thick-cut cherrywood or applewood bacon
Cook the bacon in the microwave and drain on a paper towel.
Cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool slightly. Combine the yogurt, vinegar, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add potatoes, fennel slices, onion, eggs, then the bacon.
If you like a little chill on your potato salad, you can refrigerate for about a half hour. However, I like mine room temperature so I pretty much eat the salad right after I put it together.
This just in! I just received this press release from The Northern Region of Libertarian Party of California, so I am sharing it with all my freedom loving, wine drinking friends! Cheers to liberty and taking off those silly face coverings.
-Kristy Harris, Madame Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Placer County
aka Lady K, aka cavegrrl
CAMINO, CA (June 17, 2021) – Crystal Basin Cellars, an award-winning Camino winery in the El Dorado region of the Sierra Foothills, is celebrating the end of the state mask mandate by co-hosting a “Mask Burning Extravaganza” celebration with the Northern Region of Libertarian Party of California this Saturday, June 19th, 2021 from 1:00-4:00pm at 3550 Carson Rd, Camino, CA 95709. This event is being organized as a way serve as an opportunity for healing by sharing stories with friends and neighbors, in addition to fun family friendly activities, including music by “Character Assassins,” a dunk tank featuring a Governor Newsom impersonator, display of the work of local artists and more.
The event is free, open to the public, no reservations required. Everyone is invited come celebrate health, freedom, liberty and the good lives we lead in this peaceful act of civil disobedience. “No matter what last minute changes the governor may issue, it doesn’t matter, the show will go on! We are DONE!” said Mike Owen. “If you too, are ready to say goodbye to this time in history; the public is welcome to celebrate freedom by burning your mask in a healing ceremony with friends, and good wines, in a peaceful setting.”
During the state mandated lock down, every time Crystal Basin Cellars became compliant with the latest “law,” Governor Newsom would arbitrarily and capriciously change the rules, resulting in the banishment of customer contact from this small family business multiple times since March 2020. The stress from this constant fear of losing their life’s work caused serious health complications for Mike Owen, the founder, who recently underwent a bypass operation. While Owen is still convalescing from his surgery, he feels it is very important to burn the masks that represent this traumatic time in history. We want all who were adversely affected by state mandated restrictions may all heal and move on” said Owen, who will be attending the event for a limited period on Saturday.
The Northern Region of the Libertarian Party of California is pleased to cosponsor this event so that the public can share their stories, as many have all been the victims of capricious government restrictions for over a year. “We encourage you to use this moment as a time to heal from the trauma of this last year and remember the most valuable lesson of all,” said Jia Christopher, Northern California Regional Coordinator for the Libertarian Party of California. “That personal liberty and individual rights are fragile, and we must stay dutifully committed to protecting ourselves and our neighbors from statism, because as we have now experienced, our rights are precious and can easily be taken away. Let’s celebrate life, prosperity and freedom!”
About Crystal Basin Cellars
Crystal Basin Cellars boasts the best team in the Sierra Foothills. You can be assured that their focus is on creating the most flavorful wines from local fruit. Our main hospitality team players provide a wine tasting experience that is one part fun, one part information, and a price-to-value that is second to none. We call our style of service “legendary foothill hospitality!”
All of our red wines are crafted from grapes grown within 30 miles of our winery, in the El Dorado appellation. Our growers bring us 15 different red grape varieties and we process them from grape to bottle in our historic facility. Access to such a wide variety of grapes allows us to create varietal wines from individual grapes. Our wines are regularly awarded medals in major wine competitions, helping guide our efforts at creating the most flavorful wines from our unique, high-altitude growing environment.
About the Libertarian Party
The Libertarian Party (LP) was founded in 1971 and is the third largest political party in the United States. The Libertarian, Democratic, and Republican parties are the only political parties that appeared on the ballot in all fifty states this past November. The LP seeks to expand personal freedoms, dramatically reduce taxes, decrease interference in the economy, and avoid meddling in overseas conflicts. The LP of California is an affiliate of the national Libertarian Party; learn more at www.ca.lp.org.
AIR FRYER RECIPE Hot Honey Bacon Wrapped Chicken with WINE PAIRING: Clerget Grande Cuvée Sparkling Wine
Serves 8-10 people
(depending if you are eating as an appetizer or main course)
3 Pounds Chicken Breast Tenders
24 ozs. (about 2 packages) Applewood Bacon
2 Teaspoons Paprika
2 Foil Lined Pans
Air Fryer or Oven Set to 350°F
Hot Honey Sauce
1 Cup Honey
2 Teaspoons Yellow Mustard
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Tbs Red Pepper Flake
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Coat the chicken breast tenders with the paprika, then wrap each piece with one slice of bacon. Put each wrapped piece on a tray you have lined with aluminum foil (prep tray). Continue until you have wrapped all the pieces.
Place bacon wrapped chicken in the air fryer at 350-360°F or bake in the oven. It will take about 10 mins in the air fryer and about 20 in the oven.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the hot honey sauce by combining honey, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, and the red pepper flakes. Stir until well combined.
Remove all the chicken from your air fryer and place on to the other foil-lined tray. Then brush the hot honey sauce generously over each piece.
I like to serve the chicken on a nice platter over a bed of arugula.
For the wine pairing, any dry to off dry sparkling wine will do. I found the Clerget Grande Cuvée (a French bubbly made in the Charmat method) at Grocery Outlet for $5.99. A Spanish Cava or an Italian Prosecco would also be an excellent pairing. Cheers!
TICKETS FOR PEACEMAKING HAPPY HOUR WITH ZAMIR GOTTA on July 16th:
Life can be a bit surreal. I have been an Anthony Bourdain fan for nearly the past twenty years, and like many people, felt gutted when we lost him the day before my birthday, June 8th, in 2018. Celebrity deaths don’t typically get a reaction from me, but this time I was completely shocked.
I sent my condolences to Zamir Gotta via Twitter, who was Anthony Bourdain’s travel companion in several episodes of “A Cook’s Tour”, “No Reservations”, and “Parts Unknown”. I did not really know Zamir, but wanted him to know he was not alone in the devastation he felt in the loss of his friend.
A few months later, Zamir sent out a tweet looking for a writer for his autobiography. I responded, even though I didn’t think anything would come out of it. Soon though, we were chatting over the phone and though I never got to meet Anthony Bourdain, I felt a great connection through Zamir. I remember being deeply depressed over Anthony’s death, and the new friendship with Zamir, (along with a lot of time) eventually helped me get through the sadness and loss.
I never met Anthony Bourdain, so I was quite puzzled as to why I felt like I did. I guess it was because I, like millions of others, let him into our homes so we could join him on his travels. We learned from his programs, while also being entertained by him.
A few months ago, Zamir touched base with me again on Facebook and expressed interest in organizing a movie screening (the Anthony Bourdain bio will be released in theaters on July 16th) and a meet and greet in Los Angeles. I said that I probably would not be able to make it, but to let me know if he would be in San Francisco and I would definitely show up for that. Then he asked me about Sacramento, and before I knew it, I was helping him plan the event I’m writing about now…. I mentioned the word surreal earlier, and this is why! As Zamir was Anthony Bourdain’s “fixer” in Russia, I am now Zamir’s “fixer” in Sacramento. And I am honored. So without further ado, here are the details of our event:
Zamir Gotta will be coming to Sacramento! Following an early afternoon screening of Roadrunner at The Tower Theatre (movie times are not yet posted), we will be hosting a Meet and Greet and Q & A session at Easy Diner and Bar (1725 I Street). Please join us for Peacemaking Happy Hour with Zamir Gotta on July 16th from 5-8pm!
Tickets are $25 for regular admission and $40 for VIP admission. They do not include the movie screening at Tower.
VIP ticketholders will have early admission and have a chance to have their photo taken with Zamir, and two drinks (house wine, well drink, or beer) included in their ticket.
General admission will include Zamir’s travel stories, the Q & A segment of the program, and two drinks (house wine, well drink, or beer) included with their ticket.
VIP admission is at 5pm, General Admission is 6pm. Program will be 6:30-8:00pm.
There will be extra drinks and food for purchase on site (not included in admission).
We will also be raffling a bottle of Zamir Vodka, signed by Zamir, as well as some other swag items!
You can buy tickets ON EVENTBRITE HERE. If you have questions about the event, please feel free to contact me via the contact page on this website!
Do you like wine? Do you like baseball? Well, have I got a show for you!
Catch a brand new episode of Table Talk with Kristy Harris featuring Lori Alaniz of Sheldon Wine Shop and special guest Greg Vaughn of 23 Wines and former MLB player!!
In this interview, we discuss the Sheldon Wine Shop, and why it’s a hidden gem (hint: it’s located inside a gas station!)
Greg Vaughn joins us later in the show, to tell us about his wines and how you can meet him TOMORROW, June 2nd at Sheldon Wine Shop for a wine tasting and bottle signing!
I wanted to let you know (again) about my new YouTube channel, Table Talk with Kristy Harris. On my channel, I have started a companion video series called “Cook and Sip with Cavegrrl”.
In this series, I’ll be making a recipe that is budget friendly, healthy, and pairs well with wine. My focus will also be making food that is gluten free and happens to be paleo or primal. I want to show you how easy it is to make healthy and nutritious food.
As far as the wine pairing goes, sometimes I will show some samples of wine that have been sent to me for promotion and review, and sometimes I will select a wine that is a bargain find.
Though it took several hours to edit yesterday, I am hoping I will be more efficient in my time with filming and editing next time, and that way I will be able to deliver more content.
So here it is…. my latest work. Please enjoy, and if you do, please click “like” on the video and hit the “subscribe” button. Thanks so much for your support!!
How to make AIR FRYER Beef Koftas with Deconstructed Ratatouille with a Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Pairing (Replica “Just Right” Cabernet Sauvignon)
Wow. I forgot how much I love to make things! I am really proud of my first effort, and I hope you will enjoy watching as much as I did producing the first Table Talk with Kristy Harris.
My first guest is my husband, Andy Harris, who will also be my frequent co-host! During the interview, we talk about the Paleo diet, his car collection, and of course our favorite topic: WINE! Speaking of wine, thanks to Replica Wine for sponsoring my first episode. Next time, I will make sure the bottles are moved so the are not so much in my face the whole time. 😦
I basically learned Adobe Premiere Pro over a few days and edited two different camera angles. We captured the sound with a device called a Zoom Podtrak P4. I probably spent about 4 hours total editing it, but that’s only because I had such a learning curve and so much trial/error. I also added a lot of photos (I had to dig through my collection to find) and text overlay. Next time will be much faster!
If you like the video PLEASE give it a thumbs up below it, and subscribe to my channel. Thanks in advance for your support!
I finally decided to go for it and start my own video podcast.
I’ll be discussing my usual topics: food, wine, travel and fitness, and I will also be welcoming guests to sit at my dining room table and chat over a glass of wine.
I’ll be kicking it off in a few weeks, and I would really love it if you would subscribe.
To subscribe to my channel, please click here and hit the SUBSCRIBE button. See you soon!
I’m a big fan of saving money, and for that reason, I love going to Grocery Outlet a few times a week to see what kind of deals I can find on food (and wine)!
They have an organic section with healthier packaged items and quite often, I am able to find organic meats in there, too, like the Rocky and Rosie organic drumsticks ($2.29/lb.) and thighs ($3.99/lb.) I bought yesterday. I already had the coconut milk from another shopping trip (2 cans for 50 cents!) and planned on cooking with it with whatever meat I found.
In the freezer section I found a bag of rice blend (Quinoa, Brown Rice and Pumpkin Seeds) and a bag of cauliflower rice, as well as some frozen peas. I ended up combining a little of all three (to lower calories and carbs) for a rice blend that I served with the chicken.
The chicken recipe I made is one of the easiest I have ever prepared, but it’s not my recipe. Today I give credit to Epicurious for a wonderful recipe I actually followed to the letter, except for the oven temperature/time (I baked my chicken at 385°F for one hour). My only complaint with the recipe is that it isn’t spicy enough. I would make it again and add some red pepper flakes and perhaps a touch more ginger.
Pro tip: I use the lemongrass paste out of a squeezy bottle and ginger paste from a jar. It’s a little more expensive, but the paste can be put in the fridge and lasts over several recipes, so you don’t have to keep buying it or cutting it up.
1 (13.5-oz.) can unsweetened coconut milk
2 Tbsp. Thai curry paste
2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer layers removed, lightly crushed
1 (2″) piece ginger, peeled, smashed
6 garlic cloves, smashed
4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick; about 3 lb. total)
Toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
cilantro leaves with tender stems,
lime wedges (for serving)
1. Place a rack in top third of oven; preheat to 400°F. Stir coconut milk and curry paste in a 3-qt. baking dish to combine. Add lemongrass, ginger, and garlic.
2. Season chicken with salt (hold back a bit since curry pastes often have a lot of salt). (I used a bowl to mix the coconut milk/curry paste ingredients together and then poured them over the chicken in a glass baking dish). Bake, occasionally spooning liquid over, until chicken is browned, tender, and cooked throughout, 60–75 minutes.
3. Transfer chicken and sauce to a platter. Top with coconut flakes and cilantro. Serve with rice and lime wedges alongside.
In the current issue of Outword Magazine, I wrote a piece on making dessert from Girl Scout cookies. Today I am sharing the second recipe from that article, and my husband’s favorite of the three treats I made (the third recipe will be in the next issue of Outword Magazine, coming March 11th): Toast Yay! Fudge. This recipe features the newest Girl Scout cookie: Toast YAY! This recipe is also one of the easiest things I have ever made. The only tricky part is melting the white chocolate, as it burns easier than milk or dark chocolate does. You can also substitute Lily’s Sugar Free White Chocolate Chips (sugar free and made with Stevia) to reduce the sugar content and carbs in the recipe (there will of course still be sugar in the condensed milk and in the cookies themselves).
1 Package Toast Yay! Girl Scout Cookies, broken into large pieces
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
2-2/3 cups white baking chips
1 tsp vanilla or maple extract
Line an 8-in. square dish with aluminum foil; coat with cooking spray.
Place half of the broken cookies in pan.
In a heavy saucepan (use a double boiler if you are concerned about burning the chocolate), combine the milk, butter and chips; cook and stir over low heat until chips are melted.
Remove from heat; stir in vanilla or maple extract.
Pour over cookies in pan. Sprinkle with remaining cookies.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Cut into squares..
PS: You can buy Girl Scout Cookies until March 28th, so please do! Just go to www.GirlScoutCookies.org and enter your zip code. You can also text COOKIES to 59618 (message and data rates may apply. Text STOPGS for STOP, HELPGS for help).
Professionally, I work for Outword Magazine in Sacramento as a graphic designer, photographer, editor, and occasional writer. In their latest issue I wrote two recipes, one of which I will share with you today: Lemon “Lemonades” Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce.
I know you might be thinking, “I am on the right website? I thought this was a health website. I thought she was gluten free…” Well, sometimes it’s OK to eat the cookies or the cheesecake, as long as you don’t eat all of it. I’m still 90% gluten-free, and still rarely eat desserts, but that doesn’t mean I don’t bake anymore or share treats from time to time. I was pretty hardcore for a few years, but I missed baking and creating crazy treat combinations, so the last few years I’ve come back to it. I’ve also managed to maintain my size, so weight gain is not a big problem anymore. My husband (who has the best metabolism of anyone I have ever met) does a great job of eating everything I make, so it’s not laying around tempting me. I also know the work I have to do at the gym to burn it off, and I would rather not spend more time at the gym than I already do.
PS: You can buy Girl Scout Cookies until March 28th, so please do! Just go to www.GirlScoutCookies.org and enter your zip code. You can also text COOKIES to 59618 (message and data rates may apply. Text STOPGS for STOP, HELPGS for help).
Lemon “Lemonades” Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce
1/2 sleeve Girl Scout Shortbread/Trefoils
1/2 sleeve Girl Scout Lemonades Cookies
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 Tsp lemon juice
1/2 stick of butter, melted
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 sleeve Girl Scout Lemonades Cookies
Raspberry Sauce Ingredients:
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1-3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Crust Directions: Preheat oven to 325°F (300°F for convection ovens). Crush the two varieties of Girl Scout Cookies in a plastic bag with rolling pin or in a food processor, then transfer the crumbs to a bowl. Add the flour, zest, lemon juice, and then the melted butter and stir until mixture comes together to form a dough. Press the dough into the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan and set aside.
Filling Directions: Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs; beat just until blended. Pour into crust. Bake 40 min. or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours.
Raspberry Sauce Directions: In a saucepan, combine the raspberries, 1-3/4 cups water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Mash raspberry mixture and strain through a fine sieve into a 2-cup measuring cup; discard seeds. Add water if needed to make 2 cups puree. Return to the saucepan. Combine cornstarch and remaining water until smooth; gradually stir into raspberry mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat; cool completely. Spread over cooled cheesecake, and if desired, decorate cheesecake with Girl Scout Lemonade Cookies!
I’ve always wanted to be a chef, but never went all in because I was too busy trying to make a living as a graphic designer for the last 22 years. I went to culinary school for a brief period of time, but only finished one semester.
In the past, I auditioned for Cupcake Wars, and two other shows on Food Network. I came close to getting on the show Cooks Vs. Cons, but when it came to logistics, I think they went with someone local to New Jersey where the show is filmed. I have appeared on a few local morning shows, as well as performed cooking demonstrations at the California State Fair, and the Auburn Mandarin Festival.
Just today I saw a contest that I would like to win, and even though it would be a long shot, it’s like the saying goes, “You can’t win, if you don’t enter…”
So that being said, take a look at my pics below for your consideration, and then please vote for me for Favorite Chef. I could win a feature in Bon Appetit magazine and $20,000. I would use the $20,000 to start my catering business and buy space and equipment.
You can vote for me HERE.
The hotel is as welcoming as it was during my first stay there in 2013 and has undergone some major renovations (new paint and outdoor carpeting outside the rooms) to keep her looking as pink and fabulous as ever!
As the beautiful, wood-carved sign above says, The Hofsas House Hotel has a heated pool… but did you know they also have saunas? I never realized during my two previous stays there were saunas at the hotel, and I just loved using them after my workouts this visit!
The Hofsas House Hotel is located within walking distance of everything Carmel has to offer, including a stunning beach, fine restaurants and shops, and wine tasting. It provides a peaceful respite and European charm just minutes from Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur, and Pacific Grove. The Hofsas House Hotel‘s 38 spacious, one-of-a-kind rooms boast European comfort and lovely views, not to mention amenities like fireplaces, private balconies, wet bars, kitchens, and patios.
As for our particular accommodations, the room we stayed in at The Hofsas House Hotel had a big comfy bed, fireplace, heated tiles in the bathroom floor (which I didn’t know I needed, but I do, thank you!), and a kitchenette equipped with mini-refrigerator, microwave, sink, and giant coffee pot, which is so necessary for people who don’t want to talk to anyone without coffee first—um, me!! There is even a countertop and barstools for in-room dining. Let’s not forget, there’s also an ocean view from room 45! Why aren’t you here yet?
Treat yourself with the Monterey Wine and Cheese Pairing upgrade at The Hofsas House Hotel (for $30), and you’ll have a bottle of Monterey Wine, two engraved wine glasses, and a cheese plate from the Cheese Shop Carmel ready for you.
We enjoyed this bottle of 2017 Scheid Vineyards Estate Grown Pinot Noir and two selections of cheese:
1. Fromage D’Affnoi–A brie-like cheese that hails from the Pilat Regional Park in France’s Rhone-Alpes.
2. Mt. Toro Tomme: A firmer cheese named after Mount Toro, which is one of the more prominent summits in the nearby Sierra de Salinas mountain ranges–Tomme refers to a cheese that is made to reflect the terroir of the product made.)
🧀The Cheese Shop Carmel (since 1973) sells countless other varieties of cheese, as well as wine and other gourmet foods. They are located in Carmel-by-the-Sea at Ocean and Junipero.
🍷Scheid Vineyards (since 1972) has a tasting room also located in Carmel-by-the-Sea, just blocks away from the Hofsas House Hotel, and they are open Sun-Thurs 12pm-6pm, and Fri-Sat 12pm-7pm.
LUGANO SWISS BISTRO
During our visit to Carmel, we enjoyed dinner at Lugano Swiss Bistro, a not-so-easy to find restaurant located in The Barnyard Shopping Center off of Rio Rd. Typically, we like to walk to dinner someplace nearby our hotel in Carmel-By-The-Sea, however, after returning from a visit to Switzerland back in July, we were longing for another authentic fondue experience and the decor we had seen in Europe. Through some internet research, I found Lugano Swiss Bistro. Not walking distance from The Hofsas House Hotel, but a quick drive and we were there.
Andy and I ordered the Swiss Original Fondue with Sausages. It is served with house salad, dipping bread, steamed vegetables, and apples. We also ordered a bottle of 2017 Bernardus Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands), because let’s face it, Pinot Noir is a very versatile wine to drink with an eccentric dinner like this one.
Every time we visit Carmel, we stop at La Bicyclette for lunch/brunch. Nothing beats sharing a bottle of sparkling rosé in the early afternoon… especially when I can pair it with eggs! I had their brunch du jour, and Andy had a lamb tagine dish. If you go, yes, there will probably be a wait. But it’s because it’s that good.
Once you get a table, you’ll get excellent and knowledgeable service, and there’s actually a sommelier on staff! Why am I not shocked to find out the same owners operate Casanova? (Also a must-visit restaurant in Carmel-By-The-Sea.) Tip: Lookout on the hours, they close in the late afternoon for a while and then re-open for dinner guests.
BIG FISH GRILL
On the second night of our trip to Carmel and Monterey County, we visited Big Fish Grill for a hosted dinner on the Monterey wharf. The restaurant is located at the very end of the wharf, and offers rustic charm, classic seafood dishes, and offers some of the best views in Monterey.
Andy and I shared a crab cake appetizer. I ordered the Pacific Rockfish, and Andy ordered the Blackened Salmon. Our wine selection was a 2017 Hahn Pinot Noir. I should note that there is a “locals” special served daily for $13.95. The special includes a choice of Clam Chowder or Mixed Green Salad. You can also add on a glass of house wine or beer for $3.99.
Our last stop in Carmel was Friar Tuck’s on the corner of Dolores and 5th. I immediately fell in love with this time capsule of a 70’s “greasy spoon”. It was established in 1978, and I don’t think ANYTHING has changed since! There was so much charm in everything from their coffee cups, to the mural on the wall, to their wood-carved sign out front. They specialize in breakfast and lunch, egg-specially omelets (13 to choose from on the menu)! Served with toast (no gluten-free here) and Friar Potatoes, our breakfast platters were so good, I have to make this spot a tradition every time I visit Carmel!
Many thanks to our host hotel, The Hofsas House Hotel, for inviting us back to Carmel and allowing us to experience a new adventure each time!
The Hofsas House Hotel is located on San Carlos Street, north of Fourth Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea. For more information or to book your room, call (831) 624-2745 or visit www.hofsashouse.com. You can like them on Facebook here, follow them on Instagram here, and follow them on twitter here.
A few weeks ago, my husband Andy and I attended the 2019 Winter Fancy Food Show put on by the Specialty Food Association. The show is basically the Superbowl of the food world, and the biggest tasting event I have ever attended with items ranging from snacks to cheeses, meats, candies, chocolates, specialty food items, spirits, wines and more!
It’s a great excuse for Andy and I to travel to San Francisco for the day and meet the people behind the products (many of the inventors or creators of the items are there to represent themselves or their brand), foreign and domestic. It was also another way to temporarily satisfy my wanderlust by visiting the booths assigned to items from other countries. Andy went vegan for January, so he was limited on what he could taste, but I was there to sample it ALL… especially the charcuterie and cheeses I don’t normally buy because of the price… and the calories! 😉
After tasting through the entire show in about 4 hours (we moved quickly), I came up with a countdown of my 5 favorite products from the 2019 Winter Fancy Food Show, why I liked the food/product, and most importantly, where YOU can find it!
5. Pan’s Mushroom Jerky
Since Andy went vegan for January, we were scanning the show specifically looking for anything he might be able to eat, as well as a vegan product I liked enough to write about it here. I was contacted via email before the show about Pan’s Mushroom Jerky, so I was happy to find their booth and try their offerings.
What is it exactly?
It’s a vegan “jerky” made from shiitake mushrooms. The idea for the jerky was born when its founder Michael Pan was traveling throughout Malaysia visiting extended family. While on his trip, he was offered a rich, savory snack that he thought was a pork-based snack. He discovered that it was a family recipe featuring shiitake mushrooms, and he liked it so much, he wanted to share it with the world!
I tasted the Applewood BBQ flavor. It was very tasty and well-seasoned. It also had the mouth-feel of a real jerky. It did, however have a strong mushroom flavor. Since I like mushrooms, I was fine with that. If I were vegan, I would definitely buy it as a substitute because it has the umami flavor of a meat jerky. The flavor I tasted was smoky, salty, and sweet, and overall pretty yummy.
Where Can I Buy It?
Here’s a link to all the flavors they produce. You can buy the jerky directly from the company on their website. You can also enter your zip code here to see what stores close to you carry the product.
4. Calivirgin Olive Oils
Number four on my list is Calivirgin Olive Oil, and not just one oil in particular, but I was lucky enough to sample several of them. Calivirgin was founded by the Coldani Family, and their headquarters are located at Coldani Olive Ranch. All of the extra virgin olive oil is estate grown, they don’t use any pesticides, and all of their products are organically and sustainably produced. AND a bonus for Sacramentans and Bay Area residents, Calivirgin is a local company! They are located in Lodi, California.
At the show, I was given a Mini Bottle Set that contains 100 mL bottles of the following products: Lusty Lemon Olive Oil, Guilty Garlic Olive Oil, Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Calivinegar Barrel-Aged Balsamic, and Bountiful Basil Oil. I haven’t sampled all of them yet, but I have had the lemon and the basil oils. I used the basil kind to put an extra boost of basil flavor in a vegan pesto I made for my husband! It was excellent.
Where Can I Buy It?
You can buy their products by calling 209.210.3162 or directly from their website HERE.
This brand of pecan oil is unique because it’s pressed from American native (wild) pecans, which have been untouched by fertillizers and pesticides. The resulting flavor is sweeter, and more buttery, and the oil itself has more nutrients. It has a high smoke point (470°F) and can be used as a complete butter substitute. You can find out more information about the oil HERE.
WOW! So incredibly rich, and tasted JUST like drinking pecans. If you are thinking, “Why would I want to drink pecans?” Well, believe me, you do. The flavor is was deep and buttery and would make anything taste good. So much better than some of the other oils I have tried.
Where Can I Buy It?
You can snag some Pure Pecan Oil HERE. It’s $18 for an 8 ounce bottle.
2. Counting down to number two, we have the line of meats I tried made by COVAP Specialty Meats & Cheeses!
I would be lying if I didn’t say the Fancy Food show is a forum where the Spanish meat and cheese producers get to show off (in a good way)! Just take a gander at that leg below! It’s from an acorn-fed 100% Iberian pig with a long curation time.
It was one of the most satisfying and silky tastes of Iberian ham I have ever tasted. I would die to have a little slice of this every evening with a big glass of tempranillo.
I also had the opportunity to try the above chorizo and blood sausage (morcilla) from the same manufacturer! I want to thank the host of the COVAP booth, Juan Ballesteros for allowing me to try each one. Last month, I tried blood sausage (morcilla) for the first time in Portugal and actually liked it! I was so happy to see it at the Fancy Food Show at the COVAP display and I am hoping to work with them on a future food and wine pairing post highlighting food and wine from the Iberian Peninsula.
Where Can I Buy It?
To see ALL the products in their online store (including their cheeses, sausages, ham), you can click HERE.
And… The Number ONE spot in my 5 Best Tastes of the 2019 Winter Fancy Food Show goes to…
You’re rubbing COFFEE on my CHEESE?!? Oh yes, they are. Just hear me out…
Sartori is a fourth-generation family owned and operated company and they make a full line of artisan cheeses. I actually try and stuff as much as I can into my mouth and in my purse each time I visit their booth. Is that bad? Now that we have an understanding that I really like their stuff (I miiiight have their Merlot BellaVitano in my fridge right now), let’s talk about the particular product they make that gets my Fancy Food #1st place:
OK… let’s talk about the Espresso BellaVitano. Yes, they actually rub freshly-roasted espresso into the aged cheese. It’s insanely good because the espresso has a bitter note and the cheese is nutty and sweet. It doesn’t seem like it makes sense, but it does. And, I didn’t really shove extra cheese into my purse. 😉
Where Can I Buy it?
Lucky for you, you can buy it online along with several other mouthwatering cheeses at the Sartori Online Cheese Shop HERE. Feeling really cheesy? A 20 lb wheel will cost you $317 dollars, but you can get a more reasonable size (5.3 oz) for only $7.75.
OK, that’s all I’ve got for now… Cheers and happy eating!
About the Specialty Food Association
The Specialty Food Association is a thriving community of food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs. Established in 1952 in New York, the not-for-profit trade association provides its 3,800 members in the U.S. and abroad the tools, knowledge and connections to champion and nurture their companies in an always-evolving marketplace. The Association owns and produces the Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, and presents the sofi™ Awards honoring excellence in specialty food. Learn more at specialtyfood.com.
Specialty Food Association Media Contact:
PR Department, (646) 878-0130, firstname.lastname@example.org
Guest Blog Post by Alana Savard
It seems like there is always something new popping up in the Sacramento area! Here are some of the newest eateries, food trucks, and breweries to check out in Sacramento. Whether your ideal is a laid back environment or you’re more into a high energy spot, there’s something that you and your group will enjoy checking out. Looking for a way to visit them without dealing with traffic or parking? This Sacramento and Napa Valley Party Bus offers the perfect solution to all of the inconveniences that often come with a night out on the town.
This food truck serving Sacramento is serving up vegan goods! These tacos are ridiculously flavorful, and you will not be missing meat at all. They also have a delicious menu of hand crafted frozen fruit pops to choose from. Their schedule is listed on their website, and can often times be found at Two River’s and the Our Street Night Market.
The Other Side
There are never enough beer destinations in Sacramento! You will primarily find comfort food on the menu here. The panic fries are the perfect mix of flavors. They also fill growlers here for you to take home and enjoy!
Maya Traditional Mexican Cuisine
Traditional and authentic Mexican food is the focus at this new restaurant downtown. We love the infusion of classic and creative flavors on the menu. It has a charming, rustic interior that gets pretty busy, especially during the weekend. Don’t miss out on their amazing margaritas during happy hour, as it’s a total steal.
Bru Co Taproom
Here’s a new taproom located in downtown Sacramento! We love the cheery, bright atmosphere and their varied selection of brews to choose from. Their selection changes daily, and there are also wine options if you are not a huge beer drinker. If you have any questions about their selection, the staff is happy to give you information and help you make the best decision.
Here is another new food truck that is serving Sacramento, and they’re focused on creating a menu that represents all different cuisines! You can really take your taste buds on an adventure sampling the food here. Some of the dishes include Thai noodle salad, a Mediterranean meatloaf sandwich, Asian pulled pork sliders, and an Indian madras wrap.
And speaking of wrap, that’s a wrap for us now! Here’s to trying something new everyday. Cheers!
I am assisting in planning the Curtis Park Wine Tasting & Beer Garden and Silent Auction 2018, set for October 6th this year, and here’s a little on why this event means so much to me. Here’s a throwback post from September of 2012!
Hope you will join us as a restaurant participant, winery participant, or as a guest of the event. We will have some fun new details very soon to come and I will update you here when tickets are available for this year’s event! Cheers. 🙂
Just to let you all know, this event is kind of major for me. 😉 Last year at the tasting, I met the love of my life! 🙂
Now, I didn’t go WITH my love to the 2011 event, I actually MET him there. Like, he just so happened to be there! How weird is that nowadays? Until then, I had been meeting people via an internet dating website and not having much luck at all. Then all of a sudden, somehow, someway this guy (with all these things in common as me) happened to be single and in the right place at the right time…I am still sort of shocked at my luck!
I had two tickets to…
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