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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Grilled Blue Cheese Stuffed Figs w/ Grilled Red Onion on Mixed Greens Drizzled with a Strawberry Satsuma Balsamic Reduction

This recipe is perfect for an al fresco summer evening. I made the balsamic reduction earlier in the day to get it out of the way as it can take some time to complete, but definitely easy and worth the time. If you don't have a grill, the broiler in your oven works just fine for the onions and blue cheese figs. All the flavors blend so well together and are especially well accompanied with a nice cold Pimm's cocktail. Enjoy!

Strawberry Satsuma Balsamic Reduction

1 c. sliced strawberries
1 satsuma or tangerine cut in half
1 c. balsamic vinegar

Juice satsuma into a medium sauce pan then add the rinds, strawberries, and balsamic vinegar and boil on medium heat for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Then, with a slotted spoon, remove all fruit pieces and rind. Turn heat up to high and stir. The sauce will start to reduce and get thicker. Turn off and remove from heat once it seems the liquid has reduced to about 1 cup(less if you desire a thicker reduction) about 20-25 mins. Pour into glass bowl and set aside in room temperature till ready to use.

Blue Cheese Stuffed Grilled Figs and Grilled Red Onions on Mixed Greens

4 fresh figs quartered 
1/3 c. blue cheese
1/2 large red onion sliced
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 bag of fresh mixed leafy greens
salt and pepper to taste

 Preheat broiler or grill. Add onion and figs to a large bowl and drizzle with 2 Tbs of olive oil and dashes of salt and pepper(I used a special flavored pepper that I found at a farm stand but any pepper will work just fine). Remove figs and line them up skin side down on a board. Toss onion in remaining olive oil till evenly coated(figs are too delicate to toss). Remove onion from bowl and replace with fresh mixed greens and toss with 1 more Tbs of olive oil and dash of salt and pepper, set aside.

Press chunks of blue cheese into the soft centers of each fig quarter then place on a foil lined baking sheet, evenly spaced and put into broiler or grill. Check on the figs every minute or so and remove once the cheese had melted and bubbling. Now put the onion in one layer onto a foil lined sheet and place under broiler or grill till browning occurs then remove. 

Toss onion into greens and then place figs on top for a beautiful display and drizzle the balsamic reduction over everything with a spoon. Now it's ready to dance on the taste buds! Ps....Don't forget the pims!
Recipe on my Instagram!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quick Pet Tip: The Moat Bowl

It's summertime and we all know what that means...ANTS! Those of us with cats or dogs can find an ant problem especially annoying when it comes to our pet's food. Well recently, on a home visit to my vet, I saw that she had a perfect solution for such a problem: make a moat for your pet food bowl! The ants will not swim across the water and certainly can't jump, so take that stupid ants!

It's very simple to do.
1.) Pour a glass of water into a bowl that is larger than the food bowl.

2.) Place the food bowl inside of the water bowl making sure the water doesn't overflow into the food.

That's it! This is what it should look like.

Ant free and they love it!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Naked Faced: The Beauty of Going Bare

Make-up free and no photoshop touch ups. (oh and ps. I'm not nude, just wearing a tube top ;)

 Growing up, I always had a slight obsession with make-up and beauty products. I remember my Mom buying my sister and I a kiddie play make-up set with enough brightly colored blushes and eye shadows to supply a drag queen competition and we LOVED it. I think it was then, in my young mind, that I made a false observation: Make-up makes you pretty. We only ever used the make-up to play with and never wore it in public but soon came the teenage years when wearing make-up became very a serious matter. I felt fine without it until all my friends at school started bringing their massive collections of products and religiously applying them in the school bathroom every morning while I stood to the side and watched. I wanted to fit in. I wanted that glamorous ritual. 

Throughout my high school years I survived on what little make-up I could afford so my make-up kit was a lot smaller than the other girls but I remember thinking,"These girls don't need all that stuff!" But to them, it was life or death. I specifically remember events when someone had accidentally left their make-up at home and their whole day was ruined because their parents wouldn't bring it to school for them. And they looked fine! In fact, I always thought they looked more fresh and lovely.

So now as a grown up I've developed a special love for a bare face. Of course there are days when I haven't had enough sleep or I'm breaking out because of stress so I'll whack on a bit of cover up but sometimes trying to cover up a break out will actually make it worse. And with my job, the layers of foundations and powders applied can really suffocate my skin and I rejoice the moment I can wash it all away at the end of the day. Going sans make up is how you'll find me most of the time and I can't help but wish more women would do the same! I know way too many women that feel like they can't go out into the world without a full on make-up job(foundation, bronzer, blush, cover up, lashes, mascara...etc)  and it makes me a little sad that they don't realize their true beauty or even worse, are ashamed of it. 

And for all my single ladies, let's keep in mind that the sensible dudes out there are soooo not into mask like make-up. I know thats one of those things you read and think, "Pshh, yeah right.", but it's true! Ask any guy and he will tell you, he wants to see and get to know the REAL YOU. Imagine being able to shave off that extra 45 minutes when getting ready for a date. My boyfriend actually begs me not to wear lipstick on nights out because he hates not being able to kiss me when he wants to. Natural beauty is the kind of beauty everyone can admire. So keep it simple ladies or even bare if dare. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Caenarfon Castle, North Wales

Last week we took a trip up to North Wales to hike Snowden and stayed in a quaint little town called Caenarfon. I was delighted to find this magnificent castle as we entered the town and couldn't wait to explore every inch! I'd never visited a real life castle before but it's something I've dreamed of since I was a young girl when the Excaliber Hotel and Casino in my hometown of Las Vegas was the closest I could get.
The view of the courtyard from the top of the Chamberlain Tower. Luckily we got there early before the crowds.
Caernarfon Castle (or Castell Caernarfon in Welsh) is an absolutely magical treasure. Built in 1283 by Edward I, It's been very well maintained and kept entirely intact over the centuries. Walking through the long hallways and up the winding spiral staircases, you can feel and breathe in the history all around you. We spent quite some time exploring the many cellars, balconies, and towers and still wondered if we saw everything! My imagination was running wild with thoughts of what went on in this place so many years ago. What was it like to be a royal or nobleman living your everyday life behind the castle walls? Who were these people? What were the battles like? With so many different eras having inhabited Caernarfon Castle, the possibilities are endless. So I'll just keep dreaming...

Me inside the well tower. It's mossy because it used to be filled with the castle's water supply. 
Entering the main castle door

A view from the kitchen window
One of many spiral staircases that lead up the castle towers. Some are so long they have large cut outs in the walls where you can have a rest.
This was a cellar where food was kept for storage for winter.
The Grand Hall. Over 100 ft long and incredible to walk through. Except when it gets dark in some areas...then it gets spooky.
Royal portraits. Thats King George VI who was depicted in the movie The Kings Speech.
And finally the view of the outside town from one of the towers.
Here's the wikipedia page with more info if you're interested....

Friday, July 12, 2013

Miso Sake Glazed Salmon w/ Pepper and Onion Sweet Corn Succotash

This recipe was the best Salmon I've EVER made in my life! Don't be alarmed by all the steps(poaching, baking then broiling). There are a few but they're quick and easy and are necessary for a perfect outcome. If you have trouble cooking fish properly, I promise this is a no-fault way. Oh and the marinade is to die for. No lemon or other sauce needed!

Miso Sake Gazed Salmon Ingredients

2 thick cut salmon fillets

1/4 c. sake (any kind you like)
3 Tbs. white miso paste
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs. crushed garlic
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. black pepper

Whisk all marinade ingredients together and place in glass bowl or large Zip Lock with salmon fillets setting aside 1 Tbs of marinade for the corn succotash. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. 

Meanwhile...start on this:

Pepper and Onion Sweet Corn Succotash

3 c. fresh or frozen corn(thawed)
1/3 c. chopped red onion
1/2 c. chopped bell pepper
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. miso sake marinade

In a skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onion, peppers and corn and sauté till browning occurs. Mix in the miso sake marinade and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring vigorously. Remove from heat and set aside in room temperature.

Now, back to the salmon! Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring 2 cups of water to boil in a large cast iron or oven safe skillet. Place salmon fillets skin side up into boiling water, keeping excess marinade to the side for later. After about 90 seconds, flip fillets to poach other side for another 90 seconds. 

Now it's time to bake! Remove all water from skillet, carefully keeping salmon intact. Pour the remaining marinade over salmon fillets and place into the preheated oven(400 degrees) on the middle rack for 6-8 minutes. Then, baste salmon tops with excess marinade, switch oven onto broil and place under broiler flames for about 2-3 minutes. Be sure to watch broil the whole time so burning doesn't occur. 

Remove from oven and let cool enough to serve. Enjoy on top of the room temperature sweet corn succotash. Yum!