Friday, June 29, 2012 a Cucina Urbana Happy Hour

A functional room divider. 

The community table. 

The pizza oven bar (the best place to sit).

The boarded walls and double sided bar.

Sangria and a cheese board.

Thursday, June 28, 2012 Perfecting Gumbo

I think CPB's Gumbo gets better each time. I wish I could say the same for my camera, it seemed to have a few issues. Mmmm blurry gumbo....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

A friend of mine is vegan and she said rarely does she find desserts she can eat. Almost everything has butter, cream or eggs. So I set out on a mission to make something deliciously Vegan. I started with Banana Bread. I only needed to find substitution for 3 things since it doesn't have Eggs, it only has 3 tsp of Buttermilk, 1/2 Cup of Butter and 1 Cup Chocolate Chips. The last one worried me the most, I though Vegan Chocolate meant Icky Chocolate. There's a lot of Dark Chocolate that's 'almost Vegan' when I checked out the wrapper it would say '.01% Milk' or 'May Contain Milk'. I want to know how they don't know whether or not it contains Milk? Anyway, I finally found 'Enjoy Life - Mini Chips - Dairy, Nut & Soy Free' and they were actually good.

1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil Spread*
3 Ripe Bananas
1/2 tsp Vanilla
3 tsp Silk Creamer*
2 Cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Cinnamon*
1 C Enjoy Life - Mini Chips*

Cream Sugar, Butter, Bananas, Vanilla and Creamer. Add Flour and Baking Powder. Dissolve Baking Soda in small amount of Water, add to other mixture. Add Chocolate Chips. Bake in a 9x13 at 350 for 30 min.

So good it was gone before I could get a picture....

*Ingredients in Bold are what differ from the original recipe. Summer Salads

It would seem I'm back on a Smitten Kitchen kick. It's been heating up here in Southern California, being Summer and all. (I mean it's not Texas hot, not even close.) But Summers and salads go hand in hand for me, they're cool, fresh, & crisp exactly what you want when it warms up outside.

Here are two we've made this week, both delicious, unfortunately there's only pictures of one of them.

Black Bean Confetti Salad
30 oz. Canned Black Beans, Drained & Well-Rinsed
4 Bell Peppers, a Mix of Colors, Diced
1 Medium White Onion, Diced
1 Cup Rotisserie Chicken, Shredded
1 Lime, Juiced
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Cumin
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Honey
1/8 tsp Cayenne
1/2 Cup Cilantro, Chopped

Mix Beans, Bell Peppers and White Onion in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk remaining ingredients into a vinaigrette. Ideally, you’ll have a 1/2 cup of dressing. Pour it over the Bean mixture, toss it well and adjust seasonings to taste.

Panzanella Salad
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Delicious Loaf of Bread, Cut into 1-inch Cubes
1 tsp Salt
2 Large Tomatoes, Diced
1 Cucumber, Diced
1 Zucchini, Diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, Diced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, Diced
1/2 Red Onion, Halved & Thinly Sliced
20 Large Basil Leaves, Coarsely Chopped
1 tsp finely minced garlic
3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

In a large bowl, mix the Tomatoes, Cucumber, Red Pepper, Yellow Pepper, Red Onion, and Basil. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Heat the Oil in a large saute pan. Add the Bread and Salt; cook over medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more Oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the ingredients.

Serve immediately, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Sunday, June 24, 2012 Summer & the County Fair

It must be Summer now! Here's a few sights and flavors from the County Fair:

I'm a fan of reflection pictures.

There's just a few rides I like at the fair, one called Crazy Mouse that I leave in a fit of giggles and the Ferris Wheel.

The view from the Ferris Wheel.

The Frosted Cookie Brownie, Cookie base Brownie filling topped with wonderful chocolate frosting. A must have, along with the Mini-Cinnamon-Sugar Donuts and the Street Corn.

A One Man Band, maybe he knows Bert from Mary Poppins.

This little one really liked to dance to the music.

Friday, June 22, 2012 Buffalo Chicken Meatballs & Tenders

The boys found it funny when I called these 'Buffalo Balls', so have a little giggle as you read the.... 

Ingredients for the Balls
4 Tbsp Butter
1/4 Cup Frank's RedHot Hot Sauce
1 lb Ground Chicken
1/2 Stalk Celery, Minced
1 Egg
3/4 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs

Dressing for the Balls
1 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Crumbled Blue Cheese
1/2 cup Nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

Adapted from the Little Kitchen that Could
Preheat oven to 450. Melt butter in the microwave, whisk in Frank's after butter is melted. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place remaining Balls ingredients in a bowl and mix by hand, adding the RedHot Hot Sauce Butter mixture as well. Make sure the ingredients are combined throughout. Using a spoon, roll the Meatball mixture into 1-1/2 inch balls. Place Balls in rows on the parchment paper. Roast until firm and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Allow the Balls to cool for 5 minutes.

To make Dressing, combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk until blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For an extra kick, drizzle extra hot sauce onto meatballs. Serve with dressing and cucumbers (because I don't like Celery, but you could do that too, I guess).

I also made Buffalo Chicken Tenders, I used the same principle as these Chicken Tenders but I mixed Frank's RedHot Hot Sauce into the Egg to give them a little kick. Neither turned out as hot as I'd expected, which was good for the others eating with me, I continued to smothers mine in Frank's as I ate them.

Sunday, June 17, 2012 Grilled Sausage Sandwich with Caprese Relish

A little more bragging. CPB watches the Food Network, found this recipe and made it all on his own. I was out of town and I came back to this wonderful meal. 

12 oz. Italian Sausage
Kosher Salt and Pepper
1 Pint Yellow and Red Cherry Tomatoes, Quartered
1 Pint Bocconcini, Halved
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil, Chopped
2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, Chopped
1 Tbsp Capers, Drained & Diced
1 Small Red Onion, Halved & Thinly Sliced
1/4 Cup Olive Oil, Plus more for the Bread
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
French Baguette
2 Cloves Garlic, Halved

Heat the grill for high direct grilling. Grill the Sausages until golden brown and slightly charred on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the Sausages to a platter and let rest 5 minutes before removing to a plate.

Toss the Tomatoes with the Bocconcini, Basil, Parsley, Capers, Onions, Olive Oil and Red Wine vinegar. Season with Salt and Pepper and toss to combine.

Slice the Bread open and put on the grill, cut-side down, and grill until lightly golden brown. Remove and rub the surface with the garlic cloves, drizzle with Olive Oil and season with Salt and Pepper.

Put a whole Sausage on each roll and top with the Caprese Relish. Alternatively, cut the sausage into 2-inch chunks before putting on the rolls.

Friday, June 15, 2012 Chicken Tenders with Balsamic Honey Sauce

I was tasked to cooked for a kiddo that only likes a few things. But what kid doesn't like chicken tenders?! The kiddo ate all of them, I call that a huge success! Sadly I only took one, rather dark, picture that doesn't really do the meal justice. You do get to meet my latest sous chef, there in the background, I'll introduce him in a moment.

Vinegar-Honey Sauce
2/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/3 Cup Honey

If you follow directions use these: Combine Balsamic Vinegar and Honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until reduced by half, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

If you forget to follow directions use these: Combine Balsamic Vinegar and Honey with a little Olive Oil to taste. Use as dip for Chicken Tenders.

Oven Baked Chicken Tenders
2 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Allspice
3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 lbs Chicken Tenders
1/3 Cup Flour
2 Eggs, Beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour the Panko Bread Crumbs in a shallow dish. Mix in Sugar, Salt, Pepper, and Allspice. Place Flour in a separate shallow bowl. Place Eggs in another separate bowl.

Drizzle about 3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil evenly over the Breading, tossing and turning it to mix the Oil all through the Panko mixture.

Dredge the Chicken through the Egg, the Flour, the Egg again and then the Panko mixture. Arrange the Tenders on a nonstick baking sheet. Place the Chicken Tenders in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, turning over once. If you have a meat thermometer, heat to 165 degrees. Serve hot Chicken Tenders with Balsamic Honey Sauce for dipping.

A little more about the sous chef:
Meet Jax, he likes to lay in the sunshine, eat scraps off the floor as you cook (it really helps keep the floor clean :P) and come into any room where there's people.

If you close the door to a room he likes to let you know he's there and would like to join you. Whenever you're ready, he'll wait and stand guard.

Thursday, June 14, 2012 a Disneyland Inspired Chipwich

I won't lie, there's something about the Chipwich at Disneyland that makes me about as happy as riding the Matterhorn.... and this doesn't quite match that happiness, but it's a start. This is a little something to hold me over til my next annual trip.

1 Package 'Break 'n Bake' Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 Carton of Vanilla or Vanilla & Carmel Ice Cream

Two cookies per Chipwich with a delicious scoop of Ice Cream in between. a Not So Po' Boy

1 Onion
2 Bell Peppers (Different Colors!)
4 Precooked Italian Sausages, Halved
4 Slices Provlone
4 Ciabatta Rolls

Saute Onions and Bell Peppers together with a little Olive Oil, when caramelized and soft, place Sausages in the pan until browned. Place on the Ciabatta Roll and top with a slice of Provolone.

Sunday, June 10, 2012 Sacramento to San Diego

We took a little trip to go to a friend's wedding. Here are some of the sights and tastes:

A stroll around the Capitol - Sacramento, CA 

The Happy Couple

Some Happy Feet 

Balboa Park Coming into San Diego

Sunday, June 3, 2012 a Secret Meatball & It's Sub

I'm not sure how these were made. I'm mostly bragging on behalf of CPB. He has his own recipe, usually when we cook he follows the recipe to-a-tee. I'm working on breaking him of that habbit, but for these Meatballs he took a few recipes, picked what he'd like and Ta Da! I'm so proud. The first night we ate them with Pasta and the second as a Sub. Both completely wonderful.


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