Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

November 20, 2014

Pistachio Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving and the holiday season is upon us already!  To help with your preparation, Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg of Spork Foods have created a delicious Pistachio Cranberry Sauce recipe that is easy to make and perfect for Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season! 

I'm a sucker for cranberry sauce and can't wait to have it on Thanksgiving and the day after, slathered on my turkey sandwich!

Pistachio Cranberry Sauce
Serves 6-8
3/4 cups water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar*
1 large cinnamon stick
10 oz fresh or frozen cranberries (2 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
Dash sea salt
1/4 cup Setton Farms roasted, shelled Pistachio Kernels (roughly chopped)*
2 tablespoons dried cranberries*
Heat a 2 quart sauce pot and add water and brown sugar. Bring to  simmer over medium heat and add cinnamon stick, fresh or frozen cranberries, lemon juice and zest, and sea salt.  Stir to incorporate all ingredients.

Simmer covered until berries burst and sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and add in diced pistachios and dried cranberries. Cook about 1-2 minutes uncovered and remove from heat. 

Serve warm or allow to cool, then refrigerate sauce over night.
Pistachio cranberry sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead.
*To make the dish faster, use 1/3 cup packed brown sugar and substitute pistachios and dried cranberries with four diced Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites.

Recipe and photo courtesy (C) Spork Foods, 2014
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November 17, 2014

Top 7 Turkey Myths That Could Ruin Your Thanksgiving

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year??  If you're cooking turkey on Thanksgiving or for any meal, here are seve turkey myths that could ruin your meal!  

7 Turkey Myths That Could Ruin Your Thanksgiving
Reader’s Digest debunks turkey myths to help you save time and your turkey this Thanksgiving
Old fashioned turkey lore can ruin your big meal. But Reader’s Digest compiled a list of turkey myths and turkey truths to help you save time and money – not to mention your meal – this Thanksgiving. Some turkey tips include:
  • MYTH: You don’t have to thaw a turkey completely. TRUTH: A properly thawed turkey is key to making sure the bird is fully cooked; one that’s partially frozen when it goes in the oven means the outside will cook but the inside will remain raw.

  • MYTH: A stuffed turkey won’t cook through. TRUTH: You can reduce risk by heating the dressing up to at least 130 degrees before placing it in the turkey. Also, check the temperature of both the stuffing and turkey meat before serving. Stuffing should be about 165 degrees, whether it’s cooked inside the bird or separately.

  • MYTH: Basting frequently keeps meat moist. TRUTH: Contrary to popular belief, experts say basting doesn’t actually flavor the meat much because most of the liquid runs off the skin and back in the pan. Plus, opening and shutting the oven every 30 minutes can cool an oven quickly, adding to overall roasting time.

  • MYTH: Don’t eat the skin. TRUTH: Turkey skin is high in fat – but its monounsaturated – the good kind of fat. Monounsaturated fats help balance cholesterol levels, which could lower your risk of heart disease, and it may improve insulin and blood sugar levels. Don’t make it your main meal, but feel free to enjoy a portion guilt-free.

Tips courtesy Reader's Digest!
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November 12, 2014

Easiest Rosemary Roasted Chicken

We are a meat eating family, no doubt about it.  If we don't have some sort of meat protein every night for dinner, my kids are hungry again an hour later.  We do stock a freezer full of our ranch raised natural beef but we do mix it up with chicken or pork throughout the week as well.

Rosemary Roasted Chicken is a favorite in our house.  Easy for me to put together and the family gobbles up this healthy deliciousness.

I buy skin on, chicken leg and thigh quarters and skin on thighs as well.  I begin by rubbing some olive oil all over the chicken pieces and then using Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, I season the pieces.

I place the chicken pieces presentation side down in a baking dish, add a sprig of rosemary and place in to a pre-heated 400 degree oven and set the timer for 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, I then turn the pieces over and bake an additional 40 minutes.  A total of 80 minutes.

After 80 minutes, you will end up with the juiciest, most flavorful and beautiful rosemary roasted chicken. Roasting chicken with the skin on and on the bone really makes this dish juicy.  I, myself, don't eat the skin but I love roasting chicken with it on because I just love the way it's flavored afterwards.  So juicy.

Make sure you make enough for leftovers!  Sliced up chicken is great to top a salad with the next day for lunch or wrap in a tortilla for chicken burritos!

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November 3, 2014

Easy Portuguese Kale and Linquica Soup

I grew up on Portuguese Kale Soup.  We had it at least a few times per month during the chilly months. My mom was born and raised in Brazil, my dad on the Azores Islands of Portugal, so Portuguese food was plentiful in our home growing up.

We grew kale in our garden every year and  I vividly remember picking the leaves and breaking off the stalks and then eating them raw right out of the garden.  We also raised our own beef and my mom would incorporate any type of meat into this soup.....many times some sort of beef roast or soup bones and sometimes even cow tongue....nothing went to waste in our home. 

Just a few days ago, the kids and I spent a rainy, chilly day at my parent's home.....a perfect day to cook for them this time.  I didn't go the cow tongue route here.....I used Linguica instead....another favorite Portuguese delicacy I have cravings for every now and then.  This is a super easy soup to throw together last minute.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Easy Portuguese Kale and Linguica Soup

4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 15 oz cans of chicken broth
4 cups of kale, chopped, thick stems removed
3 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15 oz cans of white Cannellini beans
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 15 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 link of Linguica, sliced 1/4 inch thick


In a large soup pot, cook onions and garlic in olive oil...careful not to burn the garlic, until onions are translucent.

Add the potatoes.  Stir and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the linguica, beans, kale, diced tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking stirring every so often, until the potatoes are tender.  About 20 minutes.

Salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to cook a little longer and add water if needed for a thinner broth.

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October 30, 2014

7 Simple Tips for Introducing your Kids to Cooking

It's a busy time of year with holiday events right around the corner and maybe your kids are involved in fall sports as well.  Sometimes it can be difficult to find some quality family time to spend with your kids. Introducing the kids to cooking is a great way to spend that quality time with them.  My kids love helping me in the kitchen and by involving them in all aspects of the cooking process, they seem to be more apt to try new and different things.

Chef Works, a leading provider of culinary apparel for professionals and home cooks alike, have compiled the following simple tips to get kids involved (and excited!) in the kitchen!

Start Them Young
Like most things you want to teach your kids, the earlier you can get them started, the better. While obviously you’re not going to let a toddler handle a knife or cook at the stove, there are plenty of tasks that aren’t dangerous that will get them excited about food. Give your kindergartner a bowl of green beans to snap, or let your kids dump flour into the mixing bowl when making bread. Kids from almost any age can help measure, rinse, stir, or clean.
Start Simple
When you first teach your kids to cook, you can overwhelm them with complicated recipes and techniques. Instead, try easy snacks and recipes that require very little, but turn out impressive. Simple dips, fruit salads, or easy pizzas are all things that won’t burn out your kids, and that they’ll love to eat when the time comes.   The younger your kids are, the shorter their attention span, so you need to make sure that whatever you’re doing is hands on, and produces results fast. It will make them extra excited to get in the kitchen next time, especially if they end up getting a treat at the end.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Mess
Kids love messes, and while you may not like cleaning up, it can make cooking all the more fun. Let kids roll out pie dough, stir batters, and smash tomatoes with their hands. Just make sure you teach them how to clean up after each session as well.
Get Kids Their Own Gear
If mommy or daddy is a professional chef, then your kids may look up to you when you put on your crisp white jacket and hat to go to work. Who says you have to limit it to work? Chef Works sells a variety of gear for kids, so get your kids their own aprons or jackets. It will teach them about cleanliness, and maybe even encourage them to follow in your footsteps as a professional some day.
Let Them Be in Charge
After a few lessons in the kitchen, let kids that are old enough take over the planning, prep, and even some of the cooking. Kids will be excited to know that a meal that they came up with on their own is eaten and enjoyed by the family. Of course, you can help them if they request it, or aren’t old enough to do everything on their own, but it’s an amazing sense of accomplishment when they do as much as they can on their own.
Take Them Shopping
Instead of dreading taking your kids shopping, embrace it. Walk them through the produce department, and talk about different fruits and vegetables and their nutritional benefits. Let them touch, smell, and feel the difference between different types of fruits, and teach them about different meats and cheeses. Skip the junk food aisles to limit begging, but instead teach your kids the value of real, wholesome food.
Farmer’s markets are another great way to get kids excited about different foods, and you’ll have a blast watching your kids’ excitement as they learn how different foods are grown and produced. It can teach them to appreciate good quality food that fuels their bodies instead of just satiating them.
Make it a Family Thing

Parenting experts will tell you that eating a meal around the dinner table is important, and it is. You can make it even more special by making the cooking process a family affair as well. Assign each family member a task based on age and ability, and get in the habit of coming together each night to make a meal that is worthy of the best restaurants. You’ll accomplish two things by doing this: First, you’ll be building good habits and spending quality time with your family, and second, you’ll take the pressure off of one person to do all of the work of meal planning and prep. It’s truly a win-win for everyone involved, and once you start doing it, you’ll wish that your parents had done it with you.
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October 28, 2014

Bacon Apple Pie To DIE For

Last week I attended our Cooking Club's first meeting of the year.  With a fall theme, this is a favorite time of year for flavorful comfort food.  But when my friend, Kristi, walked in with this Bacon Apple Pie, taking pictures of any other dish kind of went out the window.

Bacon Apple Pie.

I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into this one.

It was as tasty as it looked.  The combination of the cinnamon, nutmeg and clove apples with the saltiness of the bacon, was over the top.  I loved it.

The only modification Kristi suggested was to leave the bacon slices a little longer because they do shrink quite a bit during the baking process.

Here's the original recipe from, The Loveless Cafe.

Bacon Apple Pie
9-inch pie shell, unbaked
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 cups 1/2-inch-thick sliced peeled apples (1 1/2-2 pounds) ~ My favorite for pie is the Granny Smith Apple
8-12 slices uncooked Loveless Cafe Country Smoked Bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pie shell on a sturdy baking sheet and set aside.

In a large bowl, rub the brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves together with your fingertips until blended. Add the apples and toss to coat. Dump the spiced apple slices into the pie shell, including any sugar and juices that have accumulated in the bowl.

Weave the uncooked bacon on top of the pie filling, starting from the center and working your way out to the edges. For a lattice topping you should have an over-under pattern with 5 pieces going vertically and five pieces going horizontally. Trim the edges and pinch into the crust to seal. Cover pie with foil and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour. Remove cover. Continue baking for 15 minutes until golden brown and bacon is crisp.

Let pie cool for 1 hour before cutting.

For more information about different apple varieties, please visit U.S. Apple Association or the California Apple Commission

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October 16, 2014

North Beach Italian Heritage Parade & the Blue Angels in SF

Every year, good friends of ours celebrate Italian Heritage Day during Columbus Day weekend in North Beach, San Francisco....more specifically, from in front of Original Joe's restaurant and bar. This year I had the pleasure of joining in all the fun.  We couldn't have asked for a more spectacular day.  It was sunny, no fog, with temps close to the 90's.....yes, it was that warm.

The Italian Heritage Parade is the city's oldest civic event and the nation's oldest Italian-American parade and community celebration that works its way from Fisherman's Wharf to the quaint neighborhood of North Beach.  Every restaurant in the entire neighborhood of North Beach sets up outdoor, reserved seating, serving food, drinks and a front row view of the two hour + parade which begins at 12:30 p.m.

A family style lunch was served just after noon to our outdoor table at Original Joe's.  Oh so tender roasted chicken, flavorful beef, roasted potatoes, broccoli, ravioli, salad and plenty of vino.  What a spread!

Soon enough the parade made its way down past our table.

 A wide variety of parade entries kept us all entertained....from tossing candy and even a pizza to the parade viewers and diners.

The Italian Heritage Parade happens to coinside with  Fleet Week in San Francisco and this year, the Blue Angels were scheduled to fly once again.  I was fortunate enough to be able to watch the entire Blue Angel show from the roof-top of Saints Peter and Paul Church in North Beach...{thanks Randy!!!}

Fighter jets; so loud, fast and me chills every time.

We had a panoramic view of the bay and all North Beach from the roof top.  

Perfect for viewing some of our nation's top pilots.

I hope to make this weekend experience an annual tradition for myself.  If you're ever in the City or have thought about attending Fleet Week or the Italian Heritage Parade, I highly recommend it!

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