27 April 2011


I know that I've been talking about it SO much.
I can't help it! I love it and can use it in so many ways.

Today I had the opportunity to eat at a swanky little joint in Pacific Beach. My friend and I took our cues from my daughter to "eat lunch on the beach," and found ourselves at JRDN at Tower23. Apparently most of my friends have experienced this culinary gem on the PB strip, and now I can say that I have too.

So how is this post about arugula? I was reminded how much I LOVE arugula when I ordered the Hanger Steak Salad. Perfectly cooked steak on a chimichurri sauce, next to a bed of arugula with mushrooms, roasted peppers, hard boiled egg and fingerling potatoes.

Please don't hesitate to stop at Tower23's restaurant and bar if you're ever in Pacific Beach. Great service, ambiance, terrific food and steps from the sand. Yep, we sat outside. Then we took a blanket down to the beach and relaxed for a bit in the breeze, soaking up the sun, watching the waves. Thanks for a wonderful afternoon, Jannell!

13 April 2011

Quick It Up

My centerpiece for the weekend, fresh from the yard
Hey, I just made that up. "Quick It Up" is a great title for a post about a last minute dinner idea, don't you think? I like it.

Anywhooo, we had a yummified stovetop shoulder roast the other day. I browned all sides of a seasoned roast in a heavy pot (I don't technically have a dutch oven but this pot works), snuck some garlic cloves and onions underneath the hunk of meat, then added some red wine to simmer on low for about 4 hours. The photo to the left is the reheating process of the leftovers on the day after. You can see how it fell off of the bone and created a nice bit of liquid.

On the first night we had the roast over a brown rice orzo mix, accompanied by some broccoli. That was pretty delicious, but would take more cooking time than I had on the second night. I decided to throw a pot of water on the stove and boil some pasta. I boiled some giant rigatoni while I crushed some garlic, heated my large skillet/wok (I don't have a real wok, sorry), and pulled out my trusty spinach-arugula mix.

I threw the garlic in the pan with some olive oil to get the aroma going. After the pasta was done, I drained it and literally tossed it in pan with the garlic. I threw in my spinach and arugula, tossed some more to wilt, then added more, then tossed more. After a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper, and a quick shave of parm, I plated the pasta to accompany the beef. 15-20 minutes, tops!

Rigatoni tossed with Spinach and Arugula - Pasta & veggies in one dish!

07 April 2011

Breakfast is great for dinner, and it's good for you too!

When you hear, "breakfast for dinner," you generally think of a greasy mess or sugar rush, right? Well, here is a nice little hearty, yet healthy, breakfast meal. 

Remember Liezl, my friend that started the whole "pizza for visiting friends" thing? She was here a few weeks ago and we had pizza for Sunday lunch. Dinner rolled around and I didn't know what I was going to do since all I had envisioned that day was lunch! I know, not the ideal Mom thing to do. Anyway, I assessed the sit-chee-ay-shun and discovered that I had great ingredients for frittata. 

Vegetable Frittata:  Preheat the oven (I think it was around 300º-350º). Be sure your pan is oven-safe. I like to use my trusty stainless 10" Calphalon with a fitting glass lid for frittata. First, I sautéed onion with garlic in olive oil, on medium heat. While those were getting to the sweating stage, I scrambled about 6-8 eggs in a large mixing bowl with a sploosh of water. I seasoned that with the Fab Four (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder), then tossed in a pinch of dill. Or was it thyme? Don't remember, but toss in whatever you like. Oh, and I also dolloped some plain organic yogurt in there. You can try Greek yogurt too (works just as well as sour cream).
Next, I added the asparagus to the sauté until they were tender. I grabbed a big handful of arugula & spinach mix, threw them in the pan with the asparagus and stirred them up until they wilted down. I added the eggs and stirred it a bit in the pan to evenly distribute the veggies. At this point I left it alone on a lower heat and let the eggs cook to a separation layer in the pan (this is when the eggs make a nice fried layer that allows your spatula to slip nicely underneath without disturbing the form). 

I grabbed the pre-grated (thanks, husband!) goat cheese and parm from pizza-making earlier in the day, and sprinkled it into the wet egg. When it started to look like it might be coming together, I covered it and stuck it in the oven (I think it was at around 300º or 350ºF). After about 8 minutes I checked to be sure it was cooked and then slid the whole egg disc onto a plate. Voilà! Frittata. (Slice wedges easily with a pizza cutter.)

"What are those little pancake deals next to the frittata," you ask? Quinoa Cakes! Yes, I said quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). Check out Martha's recipe from the Everyday Food magazine. It's SO yummy, and my favorite way to eat quinoa. They go swimmingly (literally, or figuratively) with Target's Archer Farms organic 100% maple syrup. Not a fancy boutique syrup that would make our east coast friends proud, but a decent, inexpensive alternative.
What have you made when you eat "breakfast for dinner?" Let me know if you try either recipe!

04 April 2011

A Colorful Month in the Yard

Magnolia Saucer and Forsythia
I cannot even begin to express my excitement this year. Seriously, it's inexplicable. Since we've lived in the mid-south (oh...almost 8 1/2 years), my husband and I have dreamed of having some local favorites in our yard. We've spent a lot of money trying to foster baby trees, adopt transplants, and have even received gift trees... yet they all died or simply did not bear one flower... until THIS year.

Call it a spiritual rebirth, a new season in life, whatever you like. The fact of the matter is, this is the year of flowering trees.

Our Magnolia Saucer (which normally looks like a bunch of tulips on a tree) was frost bitten a few years back. We left it alone since in it's first healthy years had not produced one flower (we frowned, a lot). After thinking it was completely dead, it decided to grow back like a spindly bush. For two years or so it has been trying to make a comeback.

One day, after loading the kids in the car, I noticed a few pointed buds on the tiny bush-tree. "Could it be? Maybe it's just leaves," I thought. The next day, I took this picture (singing on the inside)! Our first Magnolia Saucer bloom!! Do you know what this means? Yet another lesson in life after death. Oh, and next year will be even better.

Another sweet surprise was the Redbud. We've owned approximately five Redbud trees, most of which have been long gone. These suckers grow in the crevices of the stone cliffs by the road, in ditches along the countryside, and in every neighbor's yard it seems. Why and how we were not able to maintain a living Redbud that could actually show its reddish pinkish buds is a complete mystery.

After getting rid of a large diseased tree that almost flattened our house in a storm, one of the fostered Redbuds seemed to flourish. They are underlings, so we planted it...wait for it... UNDER another tree. It was tattered and broken, so it too decided to be a bush-tree. In its second year of being left alone--Houston, we have bud. There is nothing like having a flowering tree looking back at you when you look out of a window. Spectacular.
Nectarine Flowers
As for the rest of the yard, everything is doing pretty well. I've mentioned a few posts ago that our plum tree is back in business, and our nectarine looks like it will bear more fruit than ever. The Yoshino Cherry Tree makes me smile every morning when I pull the curtain back in the living room.

Plum Flowers

02 April 2011

Enter a Contest??? Do that.

One of the bullet points from art school is

• Enter a contest, competition, or submit art for a juried exhibition

In fact, it was a requirement for senior classes. Artists and designers everywhere know that it is an important part of growing, sharing and improving your art. 

Issue 52
While all of that is very artsy worldish, I've never been one to get excited about a contest! Something must have been in my coffee the day I decided to submit a DIY project to ReadyMade. The knitting pattern I posted last November (Sophia's Baby Leg Warmers) seemed to be a perfect example of what Do that is all about. To be honest, I think I posted the pattern just to share my first experience of explaining a pattern step-by-step. I have been reading recipes, patterns and other people's instructions to make things, so it seemed like a fun thing to do, to put "pattern language" to use for my creation. 

So, lo and behold... I received an email yesterday that said Sophia's Baby Leg Warmers... "made it into the Honor Roll of our ReadyMade 100 contest. We gave you a shout out in our April/May issue and plan to include your project in a special print on demand issue that we’re putting the final touches on as we speak."

Shocked? Sure. There are a ton of amazing projects on there! Not to mention it's been well over a decade since I've been on any kind of Honor Roll. To be one of the 100 finalists (page 4, bottom row), let alone have a little graphic in the corner indicating the Honor Roll, was a complete surprise. 
Thanks for making my week, ReadyMade!