Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Contemplation

           The world is but a canvas to our imagination   -Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Baked Artichoke Dip - Classic!

My photo does not do this delightful dip justice, but I promised I would blog the recipe I made for the Paint and Patina show today and if I make another batch for photos...well, you know, I will eat it all. This is a classic with a little a good way. You can make and refrigerate this dip a few days before your event, then pop it in the oven just before company arrives. It is a guaranteed hit.

Baked Artichoke - Parmigiano Reggiano Dip
Makes about 4 cups

1 large shallot, peeled and halved
2 cans (14 oz) artichoke hearts packed in water, well drained
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (approx 2 lemons)
1 cup freshly grated good quality Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Topping
1/3 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp finely minced fresh oregano
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
I have also been known to shred extra cheese on top and forgo the bread crumb topping...still yummy.

Pulse drained artichoke hearts and shallot in the work bowl of a food processor until
coarsely chopped.

In a medium bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese,
and salt. Add the shallot and artichokes and mix until well combined.  Season to taste with
pepper. Transfer to a buttered 1-1/2qt. shallow baking dish. Combine the bread crumbs, oregano and olive oil in a small bowl, set aside until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 400°, position a rack in the upper two-thirds of the oven. Just before baking,
sprinkle the bread-crumb mixture on top of the dip. Bake until the bread crumbs are browned
and the dip is bubbling at the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.

If you make the dip several days ahead, be sure to remove it from the fridge about 40 minutes prior to baking.

I like to dip my favorite pita chips, but you could use crackers, breadsticks, crostini, bagel chips or thick cut vegetable chips. Enjoy!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Paint & Patina & Food, of course

 A BIG thank you to everyone who came out Saturday to our first, but hopefully, not last collaborative art show and holiday open house with good friend, metal artist Chris Turri. If you missed it (I'm talking to you JH!) here's an eat-your-heart-out look at the spoils. Chris' wife, (aka, my cosmic sister) Jan and I jumped at the chance to plan this event together. The Turri clan, including all friends, family and patrons are great to be around on a normal day...but throw an event into the mix and WOWZA! It was a blast.

Oh, and for my art lover/foodie followers, the totally awesome artichoke dip and roasted red pepper spread you scarfed down at the show will be in tomorrow's post...I promise! Love You!

Chris Turri's New! Mother Earth
Chris' Story Totems and Spirit Masks with Michael's Part of the Story Series and Olaf and Becket in the corner.

Sky Dancers, Spirit Masks, and Ravens

Star Ship, The Piazza, Bird Soup II and Hearts

Wind spirit totems flanking artwork from the Turri's private collection

On the wall: Fancy Pants and Law Dogs

What a great day! Thanks to all our lovely patrons and friends for your continued love and support!
Happy Holidays to You and Yours!     Cheers! Victoria and Michael

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Contemplation

"I embrace all of life and recognize that I am part of a greater whole."        -Louise Hay

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Contemplation

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.    ~Henry David Thoreau    

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sunday Contemplation

"Peace is every step."
                            - Thich Nhat Hahn

Souper EASY!

Does everyone except me know about this soup? My dear friend Susan Ryan insisted I take the recipe and make this soup. I really have been a snob about it, thinking that those ingredients couldn't possibly add up to anything tasty. What a dope. This is the easiest soup you will ever make, and bonus...your husband will love it. Try it and don't wait five years.

Three Bean Soup
-Recipe by Bobbie Miles, Mount Juliet, TN
Serves 10

2  Tablespoons olive oil
1  med. onion, chopped
1  med. green bell pepper, chopped
1  med. yellow bell pepper, chopped (mine was orange)
3  14-1/2-oz. cans chicken broth. (I used 32 oz-of Better Than Bouillon) Substitute vegetable broth for and easy Vegan meal!
1  10-oz can tomatoes with green chiles - USE Rotel
2  15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1  15-oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained (I used great Northern beans)
2  15-oz cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I used one red one white)

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven, then add onion, and green and yellow peppers
and cook until softened.
Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel) and drained beans.
Cook until thoroughly heated.
Serve with piping hot cornbread! 

Last Swim

I took my last swim in the pool today...sniff. Winter happens quickly in the desert. One day you are..ah..swimming in the pool and the next, hunting for those damn socks! Okay, I know it's not tragic...just saying, it's sad for us flip-flop wearing types. It is particularly hard for me this year, as I committed to swimming daily and now must find a way to exercise on dry land. So, today I am saying goodbye to life poolside and to the summer of 2013 in a bittersweet posting of some of my favorite images. It was a beautiful summer. Oh, and I am open to long as it doesn't involve running...or sweating.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Homemade Snickers...Really

Oh, yes I did! I took up the challenge of making candy, again. I consider this an act of bravery on my part. Let's just say my track record in the candy making department is zero wins (up until now!) This homemade version of Snickers comes from Blogger Jessica at How Sweet It is....and I encourage you to visit her blog now and secure this recipe. 

This is Michael's go-to candy so when I spotted it on Jessica's blog I saw an opportunity to surprise him with a healthier homemade version, well, at least it doesn't have all the fake coloring and binders. It is still the gooey, chocolaty, peanut butter bursting experience of the original with all sweetness and bad-for-you calories. Which is why I have to hide it from myself.

These precious little slices of the nutty goodness would be great on a Christmas buffet or packed into cute little give-away boxes(with wax paper between them!). I am currently storing this batch in my freezer with a few in the fridge (for Michael, of course) as I think they are best when chilled.

Photo: Courtesy of How Sweet It Is

The process is easy. I started one day and finished the next to make sure the layers cooled and set up  properly and I used a pan I could toss (sorry to admit) but I wasn't into cleaning up hardened caramel. It turns out you could use a regular high-sided 9 x 13 cake pan. Just butter the heck out it.

Additionally, I would recommend using regular salted peanut butter like Jiff. Also, purchase the large jar of Fluff and, if you do not make your own caramel, (you could!) use the Werther's brand soft caramels. I did end up adding some bittersweet chocolate morsels to the top layer...I just ran out of the milk chocolate....but I liked it and would do it again, as it cut the sweetness a bit.

So visit How Sweet It Is and grab this one. Jessica does a great step-by-step and I wouldn't change a thing. Thank you Jessica for sharing! 

Monday, November 4, 2013


Is there a more beautiful fruit? I think not! The lovely tree in my photo grows in Banning, CA. but soon we hope to be enjoying our very own crop. Amazingly, pomegranate trees do well here in our crazy climate. We have three (yes three!) newly planted pomegranate trees and they are growing like weeds. Now that is a hardy species!
I know it's a pain to get to the fruit, (click here to see the best way!) but worth the effort when those juicy little arils go "pop" in your mouth. I love to eat them by the handful, toss them into salads along with some toasted pine nuts, or add them into my hot cinnamon oatmeal for a sweet/sour bite.
They even work in candy, check out this chocolate/pomegranate bark I made for a party last winter. Rich dark chocolate and a juicy nod to summer, yum!
This season's craving has been for the fabulous Delicata squash salad I was fortunate enough to eat at the Dhalia Lounge during a visit to Seattle a few years back. I remember beautifully sautéed half-rounds of an unfamiliar squash atop a bed of mixed greens with spiced pecans and a simple but complimentary dressing. I had never even heard of Delicata squash before that lovely experience, but now I eagerly await it's fall arrival. This is my latest attempt at re-creating this dish.

Like all squash, the smaller Delicata is more tender, mine was medium small, and yes, you can eat the skin! No peeling. In fact, I prepared this salad at a leisurely pace throughout the day so the squash would have time to cool and then tossed everything together just before serving. I tried it with avocado and liked it, but felt this was optional to the success of the dish. The crunchiness of the romaine and cucumbers counter the soft richness of the squash and avocado, and the pop of pomegranate? Well, it's the best! This would be a great side to serve at pretty!

Delicata Squash Salad
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 Delicata squash, washed, sliced in 1/4-inch thick half-rounds seeds removed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
1/2 cup whole pecans, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
4 cups Romaine torn to bite-size
1 ripe avocado, sliced into half-rounds (optional)
1 pomegranate, arils removed
1/2 seedless cucumber, sliced into 1/4" half-rounds

The Vinaigrette

1/3 cup pomegranate juice (I used Pom)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly grated peeled ginger
1 large garlic clove, peeled and freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Slice the squash and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Add the squash to the skillet and cook until golden, about 5 minutes per side. Sprinkle with brown sugar to help caramelize, if desired.

Meanwhile: In a small dry skillet toast the pecans over very low heat, stirring and tossing as they toast. Watch them closely. They are done when you start to smell roasted pecans! Remove from heat and the pan! Toss them in a bowl and sprinkle with the pumpkin pie spice, stirring to cover evenly. Make a bit extra for snacking...yum.

Make the vinaigrette: Whisk together all ingredients except the olive oil to combine, then in a steady stream, add the olive oil, whisking constantly until the dressing comes together. Will keep for up to one week in the fridge.

Just Before Serving: Toss together the cucumber, avocado, pomegranate arils and cooled pecans and squash, arrange atop a bed of hand-torn Romaine. Drizzle with the vinaigrette. Enjoy!!
We had some left-over and the romaine stood up nicely, it was still wonderful!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Contemplation

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are all in harmony."         - Mahatma Gandhi

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