Roger’s Gardens – A Delish Shopping Trip!

We celebrated my mom’s birthday recently.   We usually like to drive my parents places that they don’t get to go to on a regular basis, so this birthday weekend was no exception.  I think we tired the parents out but hopefully they had some fun in the process.

There’s a nursery and gift shop in Corona Del Mar called Roger’s Gardens.  It has a great selection of plants, patio furniture, pots,  knowledgeable staff and a great gift boutique.  They also decorate for seasonal gifts and decor, so the Halloween Boutique had just opened this same weekend.  If you like Halloween, this is sure to spark your creativity!  Mom loves this place, so it was a good idea to take her there.

The theme this year for the Halloween boutique is “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and it’s truly like entering a magician’s tent with a maniacal display of whimsy, gross, scary, absurd and glittery objects.  Heaven.

Beware – tons of pics to follow!   If you can’t visit this year, then I’ll bring the store to you here.

IMG_2181Being a marketing person, I look at signage way too much even when I’m personally shopping. They had my attention with old timey fonts and ribbon motif. Well done, Roger’s Gardens!

AND…those pumpkins!  Love!  They had a variety of pumpkins, different shapes and colors scattered around the nursery.

It was 100 degrees outside, but the pumpkins made me long for cooler weather so I can comfortably cook in my kitchen again.

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Delish-able Mention #1

It seems as though it’s Fair season around So Cal these days and I admit I love a good Fair ribbon award!  There’s not enough Fair ribbons awarded in this world for jobs well done, so I’m taking it upon myself to remedy that with the “Delish-able Mention”.

The first one is going to…drum roll please…

IMG_1820This great wine bottle display and storage in the window at Tin Roof Bistro in Manhattan Village.  I’m a big advocate of space saving ideas and I love the simple rails that are attached to book shelves on either side of the window.  The built ins surrounding the window give it a great custom approach to the entire wall.

It’s a great restaurant too, but check out the details in the interior when you make a visit.  You won’t be disappointed.

Congratulations Tin Roof Bistro on this Delish-able Mention!

Glutton for Southernment

I recently traveled to Tennessee to visit extended family for the funeral services of Mary Ann.  On the last day, we wanted to eat brunch before we left our separate ways and tried to determine where to go for a Southern experience.  There was a good  discussion of Midlands vs. Cracker Barrel vs. Waffle House and the general consensus was the need for waffles, so Waffle House seemed the natural choice.

As I have been to several areas of the South, I was familiar with the building but haven’t stepped inside a Waffle House to try the cuisine yet.  The Southerners assured we were in for a true greasy spoon experience.  I wasn’t quite sure if I would appreciate that or be completely disgusted but I was game for trying!

MenuThis small diner wasn’t equipped to handle a group of eight seated together, so we chose two booths and got comfortable for the parade of food that was to come.  It had a counter and several small tables for 2 or four and a jukebox for customizing your personal soundtrack for the meal.

My table of four quickly began negotiating an array of food so we would sample as much as possible and share favorites.  The next table’s approach was to order “smothered” items as they were pros and knew what they liked!  I’m not even sure I’ve seen the word “smothered” in a menu in California?

 

Food began to arrive and I wasn’t sure there would be enough room on the table.  There were cheesy eggs, bacon, raisin toast, grilled biscuits, grits and of course waffles.  We ate and shared, and ate and shared and I think we all enjoyed the cheesy eggs and felt the waffles were a good standard waffle.  No complaints.  My breakfast was pretty much all carbs but I was going to just eat and deal with the consequences of that later.

Table 2The smothered food, well…looked smothered and yummy in a “don’t think about what that is going to do to you” kinda way.

Smothered 2This was a meal that I don’t have to do every time I go to the South but I’m glad we took the time and made this the choice.  The staff didn’t know what hit them when we all walked in, but they did well and we didn’t overwhelm them too much.  There were plenty of locals in the diner which contributed to the ambiance for me.

It was a quick trip to Tennessee and I grow fonder of the area due to the warmness of the people and how different it is from home.  They say I am “Southern” too, as in Southern California.  After the Waffle House, I feel I had a right of passage and am officially a Glutton for Southernment.

When you visit the South, what’s your favorite place?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

 

 

Cornbread Comfort

For me, food and recipes connect me to family and friends.  Smells of chicken and garlic always transport me to my dad’s kitchen while just chopping broccoli gives me giggles reminding me of prepping for a Jackson party!

My best friend’s mom recently passed away and I will always think of the great times that we shared this past year especially at the Isle of Palms and Las Vegas where she made the craps table cheer everytime she was the shooter!  She gave us all some wonderful memories to hold in our hearts for the remainder of our days on earth until we reunite.

Mary Ann was the matriarch of this fun-loving, wacky family.  I went to visit this extended family in Tennessee in 2011 where we celebrated, partied and bonded with each other through tons of food and drink as Southerners have taught me.  We ended that wonderful trip with a family dinner at Mary Ann’s.  One of the ulterior motives of this dinner was to be able to watch “the master” make her cornbread.

  • 2 cups corn meal
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2-3 teaspoons oil (heated in pan)

Mary Ann had a cornbread skillet, well used and seasoned after years of making the beloved recipe.  It had about eight wedges built into the skillet and was perfect for cornbread.  This California girl had never seen a skillet like this!

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She had the skillet on the stove warming on a low heat and poured in well over the recommended amount of oil!  (Her daughter in law ended up removing some, so I suggest using the appropriate amount in the ingredients listed).

After combining the corn meal, egg and milk, you pour the mixture in the oiled skillet.  Set your oven to 400 degrees, place the skillet on the middle rack and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

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If you don’t have a separated skillet like Mary Ann’s, you can use a standard skillet.  She would use a standard skillet and flip the cornbread through the baking to get both sides a beautiful golden brown all over.

This recipe is best baked in a skillet but if you don’t have one, a cake pan will work but it won’t get the lovely Southern fried golden crusting that happens in the skillet.  This is a simple recipe but the flavor comes from essentially frying in the oven.

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It could be that this recipe was made with love each time and that was its main ingredient.  Thankfully we are blessed with indulging in memories of every bite and smell that comes from recipes like Mary Ann’s cornbread.  If kitchen walls could talk, they would divulge thousands of emotions, hundreds of calories and most of all, decades of love.  We can take comfort in cornbread today and continue traditions for tomorrow.

“She loved YOU best!”

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Cookie Monsters like Salt

Chocolate.  I like it but I’ve determined that I’m allergic.  That doesn’t stop me from making chocolate chip cookies for the gang!  I found a recipe on Pinterest again.  This time it was a recipe from the New York Times.  It seemed like a very standard recipe but it had one strange addition of mandatory sea salt.

So on a lovely hot night in Palm Springs, I decided to bake cookies!  Luckily my friends have had a few drinks, so there was a good chance that I could succeed no matter what came out of the oven.

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar (10 ounces)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% cacao)
  • Sea Salt

I followed the directions as they were written.  You basically mix the dry ingredients and set aside.   Then mix  the butter and sugars together and add an egg one at a time.  Once all of your wet ingredients are together, you slowly incorporate your dry ingredients.  When the cookie dough is combined, gently add your chocolate chip cookies.  I then put chocolate chip cookie dough in plastic wrap and formed a couple of cookie loaves to put in the refrigerator.  You should let this dough set for at least a day.  It honestly does make a difference in the flavor of the dough.

It made it easier that I had premade cookie dough for Palm Springs.  I just had to cut cookies, place them on a cookie sheet AND sprinkle with sea salt.  I wasn’t sure about this but the recipe insists not to skip this step so I just trusted and sprinkled away!

Out of the oven, I delivered them to the pool.  Comments of “Mmmmmm” and “is there salt on this?”  accompanied lip smacking and Cookie Monster munching and crunching.

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I purposefully did not tell anyone that the cookies were sprinkled with sea salt.  They definitely noticed it and welcomed the additional flavor.  I almost forgot to take a pic of the cookies because they went so fast!  Make these and do not forget the sea salt!

Pie for Breakfast!

Breakfast Pie is a hit with most people, so I thought I’d start with a crowd favorite. I found this recipe on pinterest so I can’t say it’s my original thought but I can tell you what works with it. Eggs, cheese, hash browns, green onions – totally works. Bacon – absolutely works!

You will probably hear of me talk about trips with friends often and especially our jaunts to Palm Springs, CA. At least once a year, we rent a house with a pool and hang out there for about 4 days. We do nothing. It’s glorious. I usually plan the food and I luckily have friends that help! This past Memorial Day 2015, I introduced Breakfast Pie to the gang and everyone seemed to give the nod of approval for this recipe.
I adapted my general recipe from the “pinterested” recipe from tablespoon.com
4 large eggs
2 cups of milk
2 cups of potatoes (frozen hash browns, any brand)
frozen pie crust (any brand)
salt, pepper and green onions to taste

You can follow the directions on the pie crust, but you’ll most likely set the oven to about 350, poke the crust a few times with a fork and brown it in the oven for about 10 mins.

In the meantime, combine all of the other ingredients. You don’t have to brown your hash browns before. I didn’t, however next time I make it I might try that for extra flavoring and for color. Once the pie crust is out of the oven and you have ingredients combined, pour them into the pie crust and bake at 350 for about 35 mins. Watch that the egg mixture is solid. You can jiggle it a bit to see if it shifts too much or not or you can also slide a knife of fork in the middle to see if it comes out clean.

Once this basic quiche is cooked, remove it from the oven and set the temp up to 425. While you’re waiting for the oven to heat further, weave bacon on the top in a lattice design. If this is too complicated, nobody is going to argue with you just putting strips across the top! Put the whole pie back in the oven to brown your cook your bacon, probably another 10 to 15 mins will do it.

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You’re supposed to let it sit for about 5 mins, but I’m almost certain that we didn’t follow that direction. I wasn’t the best at cutting and serving this pie, but there were no complaints about that. It tastes great and is easy to prepare. You can even make them the night before. I would suggest making the pies up to the bacon lattice the night before. You can cover with bacon and bake 15 mins prior to serving in the morning.

I’m sure you could also change up the ingredients to other items to vary flavors such as mushrooms, spinach or a southwestern style. I hope you try it and let me know how it works for you.