Tag Archives: Cooking

missjunebug’s Smoothie Adventure Begins!

C.J. Rabbit tastes The First Smoothie as White Cow and White Hen look on. Photo by mjb2014
C.J. Rabbit tastes The First Smoothie as White Cow and White Hen look on green with envy. Photo by mjb2014

missjunebug is late to the smoothie craze, but people smarter than she have finally convinced her it’s a fine way to fine tune her nutritional intake. She took the plunge on AmazonSmile.com (so a % of her purchase goes to One Acre Fund!) and selected a Vitamix Professional Series 300! What. a. machine!

In mere minutes missjunebug whipped up some coconut milk for future smoothies. It’s actually really easy to make your own coconut milk.

Here’s a simple recipe to try:

missjunebug’s Homemade Coconut Milk

Bring 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of unsweetened coconut. Stir and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes. Then Vitamix it until smooth (30-60 seconds!) Strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, squeezing out the last drop of milky goodness. Store in a glass jar in the frig for 3-4 days or freeze into cubes.

With that success under her little bug belt, missjunebug moved on to smoothie making! Fun times!

After reading a bunch of recipes, she decided just to wing it with this concoction.

missjunebug’s Completely Unoriginal Very Berry Smoothie

2 cups of Baby Romaine

1/2  carrot

1-2 cups frozen berry medley (raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)

3-4 ice cubes

1/2-3/4 cup coconut, almond, or soy milk. (you choose!)

Pour in 1/2 the milk. Then layer in the greens first, then the berries, then the carrot, topping with the ice cubes. Add milk to keep the Vitamix mixing until the smoothie is, well, smooth! Probably makes two servings, but mjb drank both!!

missjunebug may be late to the smoothie party, but she’s overcome her prejudice against pulverized greens and is ready to mix it up!!!

missjunebug’s Yes! Yeast Rolls!

White Cow's Shadow Sneaks In On Unsuspecting Yes! Yeast Rolls! Photo by mjb2014
White Cow’s Shadow Sneaks In On Unsuspecting Yes! Yeast Rolls! Photo by mjb2014

missjunebug spent a little time in her kitchen this weekend baking up some super delicious, super easy Yes! Yeast Rolls! In fact that’s what she and her trusty Mr.JB had for dinner last night. Bread being the Staff of Life, missjunebug is all for having some homemade SofL every once in a while.

missjunebug has a dear friend who calls such white flour concoctions Frankenbread, being on an anti-gluten crusade in her own life. To her friend missjunebug has two things to say: “De gustibus non est disputandum” and “You only live once!” Seriously, she appreciates her friend’s efforts at living a nutritionally clean life–would that missjunebug could be so disciplined, but if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, dear Reader, you must know missjunebug is erratic inconsistent whimsical in her nutritional leanings so she figures the occasional unbleached King Arthur White Flour yeast roll can only nourish her little bug soul if not her little bug body. C’est la vie!

So without further ado or rationalization missjunebug presents

missjunebug’s Yes! Yeast Rolls!

Adapted from a recipe mjb found somewhere in the never ending, constantly refreshing, infinitely entertaining, always inspiring annals of Pinterest.

Super Simple Ingredients

2 sticks butter

1 cup water

3/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt

2 eggs (Organic!–could help counteract the demon white flour)

2 packets of Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast

1 cup warm water

6 cups King Arthur unbleached white bread flour

Super Simple Directions

Warm up your oven for a while at about 225 degrees, then turn it off. This will be the perfect place to let your dough rise.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add the 2 sticks of butter. Stir until melted.

Add sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Whip up the eggs with a wire wisk in a small bowl until nice and creamy. Add to cooled butter/sugar/salt mixture. missjunebug suggests you now transfer this mixture to your Kitchen Aid mixer!

In a separate bowl, add 2 packages of yeast to 1 cup lukewarm water. Stir and add a teaspoon of sugar if you feel the need to proof the yeast (checking to see it is still active!). If the mixture double in volume and foams nicely, your yeast is alive and well.

Add the yeast mixture to the butter/sugar/salt mixture. Combine and then begin to add the flour one cup at a time until all the flour has been blended into the b/s/s/y mixture. missjunebug uses the regular Kitchen Aid paddle, not the dough hook to combine the flour with the b/s/s/y mixture.

Grease a large glass bowl with butter. Transfer the dough to the glass bowl and then flip it over! That way both sides are buttered up.

Cover with a lightweight kitchen towel and place in over to rise for 1 hour. Remove dough from bowl and place on floured cutting board to knead by hand for 2-3 minutes. Place back in bowl and let rise for a second time for about 30 minutes.

After second rising, place dough on floured board, roll out with a rolling pin, and cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter or pint-size glass. Silpat or parchment paper-up your cookie sheets and place rolls two or so inches apart. Let rise one more time for about 45 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-14 minutes. Keep watch for golden brownness! Remove from oven, slather with butter, and enjoy!

These rolls are easily frozen and reheated in a toaster oven for daily deliciousness!

Long live the Yes! Yeast Roll!

Golden Brown Rounds of Yeasty Goodness! Photo by mjb2014
Golden Brown Rounds of Yeasty Goodness! Photo by mjb2014
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Ode to a Veggie Sandwich

Who knew veggies could be so good? Photo by mjb2014
Who knew veggies could be so good? Photo by mjb2014

Ode to a Veggie Sandwich

by missjunebug

It’s starts with Dave

And his Killer Bread

All 21 whole grains.

Toast it up

Slather on

French’s finest

yellow as the sun mustard.

Yum.

Pile on in no particular order:

Avocado. Buttery, brilliant CAvocado,

Radish sprouts, cute as commas

Spinach, baby-leafed green on green

Tomatoes sliced, juicy and cheerful

as laughing mouths.

Then grab that very veggie veritable feast

and put it in yours!

 

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DAYNES Brings It: Authentic Chicago-Style Italian Beef

Chicago Beef: Beefed Up with Sweet Bell Peppers Photo by mjb2014
Chicago Beef: Beefed Up with Sweet Bell Peppers Photo by mjb2014

Trusty Mr.JB is happy as a clam since trying out the Chicago-style Italian Beef sandwich at DAYNES in Thousand Oaks. It is the real deal. missjunebug spotted this colorful eatery after a quick cuppa at Chocolatine (located right next door) on Thousand Oaks Boulevard and she convinced Mr.JB to give it a go. Believe missjunebug when she says he is glad he did!

It’s a bit jarring to leave the languor and sophistication of the French-inspired Chocolatine cafe and coffee enclave and enter the graffiti-bright graphics of DAYNES, but that’s the beauty of the strip mall, n’est-ce pas? 

For their first visit, missjunebug ordered the Beef and Sweet Peppers; Mr.JB, the Combo. With the order comes plenty of napkins because these sandwiches are ridiculously juicy. Eat ’em up fast so your plump sandwich roll doesn’t get soggy! Yep, they are that juicy!

For their next visit: the Chicago Dawg. Can’t wait to taste its authenticity! Celery Salt included!

If you are a Midwestern transplant missing that savory flavor of the Chicagoland Italian Beef-style sandwich, or you are just a hungry, hungry local, Daynes Chicago Beef and Dawgs can hook you up!!! Check out their website www.dayneschicagobeef.com for more information or swing by their little restaurant of really good eats at 2951 East Thousand Oaks Boulevard in T.O. missjunebug is sure you will savor the flavor!

The Works: Sausage, Beef, Giardiniera!
The Works: Sausage, Beef, Giardiniera!

mjb’s Next Culinary Pursuit? Locating Authentic Texas-style Barbeque in SoCali. And she thinks she’s got a lead on where to find it. Stay tuned.

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missjunebug’s Apricot Nut Bread: The Perfect Start to the Day!

A Loaf of Deliousness! Photo by mjb2014
A Loaf of Deliousness! Photo by mjb2014

missjunebug has a love of all things nutty and apricoty. When the two are in combination she’s twice as happy. If you find yourself occasionally craving some carbs, try this sweet little tea bread on for size. missjunebug thinks you’ll find it fits your appetite perfectly!

missjunebug’s Apricot Nut Bread  

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 cup sugar

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

3 tablespoons Canola oil

3/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

4 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 cup chopped dried aprictos

1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan (9x5x3inch or two mini loaf pans). Measure all dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and chopped fruit and nuts. Mix well with hand mixer or Kitchen Aid, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes depending upon the idiosyncrasies of your oven! Check the doneness of the loaf with a toothpick–it should come out clean when inserted in center. Cool on a rack for about 15 minutes, then invert pan and remove loaf. It should come out easily!

Serve warm, cold, or toasted. Slice thin and smear with butter or cream cheese or apricot Stilton cheese spread!! Divine!

mjbTip: Make some tea bread today! It’s super easy and super delicious!

Little White Hen Looks on  Approvingly! Photo by mjb2014
Little White Hen Looks on Approvingly! Photo by mjb2014

 

 

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Welcome October!

missjunebug loves fall in SoCali!  The fall of blazing orange pumpkins, cool, crisp weather (almost here!), clear dark-sky nights (rain by Thanksgiving), sweater warmth (cashmere, please!), and plenty of practice baking going on so that missjunebug can be ready for pie duty on Thanksgiving day. So how has missjunebug been preparing herself for all that’s fall?

First, she headed to her fave pumpkin patch at Underwood Farms 3370 Sunset Valley Road in Moorpark and picked some perfect pumpkins for her porch! (Whew! So alliterative!) Take a look:

A Wheelbarrow Full of Pumpkin Fun! Photo by mjb2013
A Wheelbarrow Full of Pumpkin Fun! Photo by mjb2013

 

Ghost pumpkins! So spooky the orange ones cower! Photo by mjb2013
Ghost pumpkins! So spooky the orange ones cower! Photo by mjb2013

 

Pumpkins almost as far as the eye can see! Photo by mjb2013
Pumpkins almost as far as the eye can see! Photo by mjb2013

 

missjunebug worked up a serious appetite and decided it was time to make one of her fave cookie recipes: Monster Cookies! So appropriate for the Halloween month of October. Are they scary? Not really. Just big and fun and delicious. The secret: No flour! Just some healthy oats, some (maybe not so healthy) sugars, peanut butter and voilà! Monster Cookies! Easy to make. Easy to eat. Easy to freeze for later!

Here’s are the recipes for a ton o’ cookies (the first one) and a half ton o’ cookies (the second one):

missjunebug’s Not-So-Scary Monster Cookies

Full Recipe

1 dozen eggs

2 lbs brown sugar

4 cups granulated sugar

1 T. vanilla

2 T. Karo syrup

8 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 lb. butter

3 lbs. peanut butter

18 cups Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats

1 lb. M&Ms

12 0z. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Beat the room temperature butter until nice and creamy. Add the sugars, vanilla, syrup, and baking soda. Add the eggs and beat in a few at a time. Next, blend in the peanut butter until the mixture is thick and semi-gooey! Throw in the oats, M&Ms, and chocolate chips and you are good to go. Scoop a large size cookie onto Silpat-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 13 to 18 minutes, depending upon how crispy you want the cookie to be. missjunebug likes hers super crispy, but it’s up to your taste!

Remember what missjunebug says: “De gustibus non est disputandum!” There’s no accounting for taste (so each to his/her own!)

Too many cookies? Yeah, this Full Recipe makes about 12-14 dozen depending upon the individual size of the cookie. That’s a lot o’ cookies!!!

Try this instead:

Half Recipe

6 eggs

1 lb. brown sugar (= 2 cups)

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 T. vanilla

1 T. Karo syrup

4 tsp. soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lb. butter

1 1/2 lbs. peanut butter

9 cups Quaker Old-Fashioned Oatmeal

1/2 lb. M&Ms

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Throw in a bowl and beat the heck out of the ingredients. (Not really. Just read above Full Recipe for how to combine the ingredients!)

These cookies should be stored in an airtight tin or container. You can also Ziploc them into freezer bags and save some for later!

Throw all the ingredients in a big bowl! Photo by mjb2013
Throw all the ingredients in a big bowl! Photo by mjb2013

 

Form a big cookie using a couple of tablespoons. Photo by mjb2013
Form a big cookie using a couple of tablespoons. Photo by mjb2013

 

Cook until crisp and cool! Delicious! Photo by mjb2013
Cook until crisp and cool! Delicious! Photo by mjb2013

 

mjbTip: Go out and have some fall fun! Welcome October indeed!

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Four-Hour Body: Easiest Eating Plan Ever!

So it’s that time of year when missjunebug and her Trusty Mr.JB begin to think about improving their health, slimming down a bit, and getting fit! The January resolutions didn’t quite pan out and the pre-Easter makeover didn’t quite make it, so now summer looms in the June gloom and they are both ready to turn over a new (stevia-sweetened) leaf.

As mentioned in an earlier post, missjunebug and her fab fam have been reading the Tim Ferriss books all of which riff on the number four: Four-Hour Work Week, Four-Hour Body, Four-Hour Chef. They are fun x 4 to read and they guarantee full body, brain, and brawn overhaul with minimum expenditure of effort and maximum pay off. Tim even encourages his readers to learn a foreign language along the way to their “new you” status! missjunebug is pretty sure with Tim Ferriss as a guide, anything is possible!

Which brings missjunebug back to the Easiest Eating Plan Ever: Four-Hour Body. Five Simple Rules. These are reproduced straight from missjunebug’s copy of Tim’s awesome book Four-Hour Body. Some of these succinct rules will sound very, very familiar to you as they appear on most sensible eating plans these days. Others not so much.

English: A closeup look at Burke, the latest p...
English: A closeup look at Burke, the latest pinto bean from ARS and university plant scientists. It resists a host of harmful fungi and viruses that can otherwise cheat growers of a bountiful harvest. Photo by Scott Bauer.http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rule #1: Avoid “white” starchy carbohydrates (or those that can be white). This means all bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and grains.

Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again, especially for breakfast and lunch. You already do this; you are just picking new default meals.

Rule #3 Don’t drink calories. Exception: 1-2 glasses of dry red wine per night are allowed.

Rule #4 Don’t eat fruit. Avocado and tomatoes are excepted.

Rule #5 Take one day off per week and go nuts. I choose and recommend Saturday.

What could be simpler? missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB have had no trouble staying on this plan because it is so super simple: protein, bean, green. That’s pretty much it!! Oh and did she mention how super boring it is! Life without carbohydrates is drab indeed, but when Sunday rolls around–their “go nuts” day, life is good indeed!

Today, for instance, missjunebug and Mr.JB had a marvy brekkie at Pete’s Breakfast House in Ventura–(search for mjb’s review of this great eatery!) Waffles! Syrup! Milk! (and a strip of bacon or two and an egg or two for good protein measure.) Let the carbohydrates roll!! Of course, they can only roll until tomorrow when it’s back to six days of protein, bean, green! missjunebug suspects there is a modicum of discipline required in staying on this plan, but honestly she thinks it’s easy because you can never overeat protein, bean, green. It simply can’t be done!

So if you are feeling a little sluggish and in need of some slimming, say good-bye to sugar and take the Four-Hour Body Five-Rule Challenge! Summer looms just past the June gloom!

 

 


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Aroma Coffee and Tea Company! Good for mjb!

Al Fresco Dessert! Perfect! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug and a dear friend made their way from SoCali suburbia to a hipper, cooler, vibe-ier locali: Aroma Coffee and Tea Company. What fun! And what fine food.

missjunebug is on a mission to try every tuna melt she meets up with on the menus of her restaurants of choice. Aroma’s Tuna Melt with swirly black and white rye bread, yummy tomatoes, and delicious tuna fishes did not disappoint. missjunebug’s friend had an Asian noodle-y salad that looked exotic and colorful.

The Aroma menu is complex, interesting, and it offers breakfast fare and a fair amount of lunch and dinner items that you just can’t go wrong in choosing. missjunebug found the Buenos Dias, Los Angeles! section particularly intriguing but she passed on the enticing South of the Border flavor in her on-going pursuit of the Perfect Tuna Melt!

After the meal, missjunebug and her dear friend made their way back to the pastry case that graces the entrance to the charming restaurant, an erstwhile home with vintage touches and many tucked away, comfy tables in which to enjoy a fresh repast. Her friend ordered the Princess cake, a many-layered, custardy delight; missjunebug made a beeline to the Bee Cake. Believe missjunebug when she says It be good!

The next time you want to escape the fast food joints, the burger stops, and the other links in the restaurant chain, hop in your car and head down to Aroma Coffee and Tea Company for delicious food and fun. You’ll find them at 4360 Tujunga Ave. Studio City, California 91604 • Ph: 818.508.0677. Hours: Mon – Sat 6am to 11pm / Sun 7am to 11pm.

When you’ve eaten your fill of fab food, take a stroll down Tujunga and pop into the local boutiques for a little shopping, window or otherwise. missjunebug found a nice pair of earrings for a nice price while her friend found a lovely handcrafted skirt.

The perfect end to a perfect day.

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Mini Cheery Cherry Pies

Miniature Pie, Maximum Flavor! Photo by missjunebug 2013

missjunebug woke up this morning and got a cheery, cherry idea. She had one, lone roll-up Pillsbury pie crust in her frig, and thought she better use it or lose it to the rapidly approaching expiry date. After a quick pantry forage, she found a can of that blissfully sweet Cherry Pie Filling to help her seal the deal on this Semi Delicious, Mega-Not Healthy breakfast idea.

She grabbed a pint glass–perfect round mini pie crust cutter–and managed to form eight tiny crusts, the perfect size for muffin tins. She carefully placed them in the tins and spooned in a generous dollop of cherry filling into each Mini Cheery Cherry pie-to-be. With the leftovers she cut a few lattice top strips (as easy as pie to do!) and placed them over the cherry filling in a not quite perfect woven top crust. missjunebug might even call the top crust “rustic”–that word covers over many imperfections without losing any flavor!

missjunebug popped those precious mini pies in a hot 425° oven and baked them until they were golden brown and bubbly, about 2o or so minutes. After a quick sprinkle of granulated sugar over the top–(also helpful in covering over any rustic crust imperfections!), she popped them out of muffin tins and placed them on plates for breakfast for her and her dear MrJB who was happy to help taste test her Mini Cheery Cherry Pie experiment.

What a fun way to start the day: A cold glass of 1% milk (missjunebug is, of course, always watching her calories!) and a Mini Cheery Cherry Pie…or two. Double delicious! The next time you find yourself with a lone roll-out pie crust, turn it into the mini pies of your choice! Super easy to make. Super delicious to eat.

missjunebug will think about eating Mega-Healthy tomorrow.

MiniPie in a Muffin Tin: Oh. Pie. Yes. Photo by mjb2013
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Speculoos is Spectacular!

Cookie Magic! Photo by mjb2013

Every once in a while missjunebug comes across a product that is absolut! blog worthy. Like Consumer Reports, she receives no special consideration or payment for her endorsement. missjunebug is an ad-free zone! She shares this information for the sheer joy of hoping others will enjoy the product as joyfully as she has enjoyed it! Too many joys?? Not in this case! Speculoos is a taste bud-altering experience, unlike any missjunebug has ever had. Imagine delicious cookies, mildly spicey shortbread cookies. Imagine those cookies smashed to bits. Imagine those smashed bits being spun into a creamy, silky, buttery, sweet, caramel-ly spread. Imagine dipping a spoon into said spread and slathering it on, what else? another cookie! Ahhhh. Spectacular Speculoos! If no other cookies are available just enjoy straight off the spoon.

Your taste buds will be forever grateful as missjunebug is to ElderJB for introducing the junebug family to Speculoos during the Christmas holidays. He wends his way through Brussels, Belgium on his trip from Rwanda to the Hacienda in SoCali and always does a little airport shopping. While missjunebug appreciates the awesome Belgium chocolates ElderJB lavishes upon the junebug fam, she’s just wild about the new find: Speculoos! Thanks, ElderJB for this smashed-up cookie spread madness!

If you are not traveling to Brussels in the near future you can track down Trader Joe’s version of Speculoos descriptively named Speculoos Cookie Butter. missjunebug doubts it is as good as Lotus Original Speculoos but it might run a close second, and it is available a lot closer to home! Sadly, missjunebug will probably have to settle for TJ’s version because her jar of LOS is profoundly empty.

Alas...the jar is empty! Photo by mjb2013
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missjunebug’s Holiday Bars

Holiday Still Life! Photo by mjb2012

No, this is not a post about the best place to imbibe alcohol during the holidays! missjunebug wants to share with you her recipe for fruity and nutty Holiday Bars. If you never got into fruitcake but enjoy dates, raisins, and walnuts, this holiday cookie is for you. Mega Delicious and Semi Healthy describes this bar perfectly. Easy to make, easy to freeze, easy to take to any party or cookie exchange, and very, very easy to eat!

missjunebug’s Holiday Bars

(adapted from an ancient but beloved cookbook entitled Cookery for Entertaining)

Ingredients

1 (8-oz.) package Sun Date California Medjool dates, pitted and chopped

1 cup raisins, Trader Joe’s golden or SunMaid regular or a mix of both kinds

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup sugar, divided

1 stick butter (1/4 lb.), room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs, organic

2 cups unbleached flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 tablespoons orange juice

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease 2 baking sheets (or use Silpat liners or parchment paper); set aside. Stir together in a large bowl dates, raisins, walnuts, orange peel, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup sugar until the fruit is well coated; set aside. In a separate bowl or Kitchen Aid mixer (best choice!) cream butter and the remaining sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Whisk together in a small separate bowl the flour, baking powder, salt, and orange juice. Then add this flour mixture to the sugar and egg mixture. Add the dates, raisins, and walnuts mixture and stir until blended. The dough will be stiff.

Divide dough into four equal portions and shape two logs (12″ x 2″ x 1/2″) on each prepared baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes until slightly brown. The logs will feel soft but they will firm as they cool. Cool for 15 minutes. Cut diagonally into 3/4″ bars. Dust with powdered sugar. These freeze well in Zip-loc freezer bags or cookie tins. Makes approximately 64 delicious bars!

After you make these, you can head to your fav holiday bar and celebrate! Cheers!

Don't these look yum x tum! Photo by mjb2012
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missjunebug’s Find of the Week: Carrara Pastries in Moorpark, CA

A Carrara Pastries Croissant with an Italian Twist! Photo by mjb2012

 

missjunebug had some not so fun medical procedures this week that compromised her diet considerably. The first one (a PET/CT scan) cancelled all carbs and caffeine from her diet for more than a day. Arg. She quickly entered the sad realm of Headache City and no amount of protein or vegetable matter could make up for that profound lack of sweetness and starch and caffeination. missjunebug needs her caffeine and carbs!!!!

The next day she was back to a normal diet for 24 hours, then she had to go all clear liquids for 24 more hours to prepare for a lower GI series performed by a hospital radiologist that assured her the procedure would go by quickly.  This, of course, is a matter of perspective. missjunebug’s perspective was no quite so sanguine.

Ever had a baby? Now imagine that baby is traveling down that other canal. Arg x 10. TMI no doubt but to get back to the restricted diet, the interesting thing she realized was that it was tons easier to go all liquids because the beverages she drank had…wait for it…wait for it…caffeine and carbs! She rounded out her intake with some beef broth and chicken broth and those 24 hours just flew by. Clearly (pun intended!!!) missjunebug could never be a big fan of Atkins. But this is all prologue.

What missjunebug really wants to talk about is what she did to catch up on her carbs once the medical procedures were in her rear view (pun intended!!!). She headed over to that lovely, sleepy bedroom community of Moorpark, CA to scoop up some of the best Italian croissants on the planet at the recently opened Carrara Pastries.

This beauty of a bakery is full of delightful Italian pastries, cookies, and cakes, but missjunebug’s two favs are their light-as-air croissant, lightly glazed and their lightly powdered sugar croissant plumped up with the most luxurious and luscious Chantilly cream you have ever tasted. You can see the croissant in the photo above practically floating above missjunebug’s plate! That’s thanks to the meticulous execution of authentic Italian recipes by pastry chef Massimiliano Carrara, a native from the city of Lucca (Tuscany). To borrow a Brit word, he’s brilliant!

This pasticceria featuring homemade Italian desserts will not disappoint. You can find it right across the street from another Italian fav of missjunebug’s, Cafe Firenze. The next time you get a carb craving, check out Carrara Pastries at 476 West Los Angeles Ave, Unit A-13 in Moorpark or their delicious website at www.carrarapastries.com.

If you want more that one or two croissants be sure to get there early, around 9 or so, because these pastry perfections go fast! Or call 805-552-4250 the day before and let the pastry chefs know how many you’d like. Sadly, missjunebug had to learn this the hard way arriving one morning at 11 am, about two hours too late to enjoy authentic Italian croissants! Is there anything sadder than an empty display case where fresh croissants should be, but aren’t? missjunebug doesn’t think so!

Even their packaging is golden perfection. Just take a look!

Pretty Packaging Pleases missjunebug! Photo by mjb2012

Buon Appetito!!!

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A Few of missjunebug’s Favorite Things

English: Christmas cookies in Czech republic. ...
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug is not much of a fan of that Julie Andrews song from the treacly Sound of Music--was that really Best Picture??–my! how tastes have changed. Anyway she still likes the idea behind the song: enumerating favorite things can be fun and useful. So here are a few of missjunebug’s current favorite things this time of year:

The Somis Nut House–the most awesome place to buy holiday candy, fruit, and nuts in Ventura County, SoCal. Located in an unassuming building reminiscent of a big shed, you’ll find an array of  candy favorites vintage and new as well as nuts amped up with spices, sugars, and smoke. She even found a spicy little mix called Samurai whose name speaks for itself! There are the usual sweet suspects: cherry sours, licorice, a virtual gummy zoo of shapes, malted milk balls on steroids, English toffee that’s pricey but so worth it, and many other chocolatey and foil-wrapped Christmas favs. And nuts and dried fruits galore. Mr.JB’s fav? Dried Kiwi fruit! Pale green disks of sugary sweet fruity goodness that look perfect as the centerpiece of a Christmas gift box. Where is this delightful house of delicacies? 4475 East Los Angeles Avenue  Somis, CA 93066-9616 Call them at (805) 386-1211 or check out their website at www.somisnuthouse.com. You and your sweet tooth will be thanking Somis Nut House (and missjunebug) the rest of the holiday season!

Pandora Radio set to Christmas Jazz. If you are a little tired of Jingle Bells barked by dogs or the Vienna Boys Choir somber Latinate songs of the season or the mellifluous but slightly depressing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” crooned by various old school musical masters like Bing and Tony or updated by Michael B. then try the instrumental and upbeat Christmas Jazz stream playing right now on Pandora. missjunebug recommends it as the best possible music to decorate a Christmas tree or bake cookies to. For a slightly edgier mix try setting your Pandora to Mannheim Steamroller. That will definitely get your Christmas groove on.

Spritz Cookies! What would Christmas be without these little pressed wonders so sparkly and buttery! missjunebug knows you remember she already gave you the recipe for those cookies in a previous blog post. If you don’t believe her just search her very accommodating site for it under Semi-Healthy Mega-Delicious Recipes! And make some! If  you can’t find the time to do that and you still crave sugar cookies, try to make it to Royal Bakery in Ventura for some delicious Christmas sugar cookies that are so worth the drive! Green trees! Red stockings! Black and white cows! Okay, so the cow cookies are not particularly seasonal, but they are delicious!

A fresh-cut Christmas Tree from the Men of the Elks Lodge or other such helping organization! These dedicated white-haired gentlemen provide funding for so many worthy charitable enterprises in local communities, you’ll feel practically holy buying a tree from them! And the piney fragrance is worth every penny! So bite the bullet, dole out the cash, and inhale the green freshness of that very noble Nobel Fir!

A Kiva Gift Card to help support small business entrepreneurs throughout the world. This is the quintessential gift that keeps on giving. As soon as the global entrepreneur pays back the loan, guess what? You can re-lend it again! And again! missjunebug has helped finance a Kenyan moto man so that he could buy some new tires for his burgeoning motorcycle taxi transportation service, a Rwandan woman who needed to procure beauty products for her salon, and another Rwandan woman supplying her clothing business with some fresh fashions! It’s never been more interesting to provide a hand up, not a hand out! Check out this super worthy enterprise at www.kiva.com!

Now missjunebug has an important question for you: What are your favorite things of the season? Shopping? Eating? Watching Christmasy movies–(actually, missjunebug should have included this one, too). Figure it out! Get busy doing them! And do as Julia says,”I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”

Happy Holidays!

 

 

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Spinach+Goat Cheese+Onion+Bacon Quiche=Delicious!

Hey Little Steer! Check out that Spinach Quiche! Photo by mjb2011
Hey Little Steer! Check out that Spinach Quiche! Photo by mjb2011

missjunebug recently updated her reliable old standard recipe for Quiche Lorraine and made it a tiny bit healthier by cutting back on the bacon and adding spinach and a little goat cheese.

Here’s her recipe re-do:

missjunebug’s Spinach+Goat Cheese+Onion+Bacon Quiche

Read the recipe through for the list of all the ingredients.

Homemade crust or Pillsbury Pie Crust (just unroll and you’re ready to go!)

4 eggs

1 cup Half and Half

1 cup whipping cream

4 eggs

1 T. flour

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Whisk up the above ingredients and set aside while you assemble the quiche savory components.

1 bag baby spinach

1/2 chopped onion

1 T. olive oil

Cook baby spinach in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until cooked down. Drain vigorously using paper towels–wrap and squeeze out the liquid, then chop.

Heat olive oil in a skillet or dutch oven. Toss in the chopped onion and saute until onion is translucent. Add the drained, chopped spinach and combine with onion. Saute together a minute or two, just long enough to blend flavors.

Now prepare these ingredients:

6 pieces bacon, fried until crisp (missjunebug loves Farmer John’s) and crumbled

1 1/2 cups Jarlsberg Swiss cheese, grated

2-3 T. goat cheese, cut up into tiny pieces

Place pie crust in 9″ or 10″ pie plate. missjunebug prefers ceramic ones, but glass or metal will do just fine, too.

Sprinkle in a layer of grated Swiss cheese, then a layer of crumbled bacon. Repeat until you use up all the Swiss cheese and bacon. In one layer, place the spinach/onion saute on top of the cheese/bacon layers. Finish off with the tiny pieces of goat cheese. This part is a little messy since the goat cheese is a soft cheese, but do the best you can.

Pour the custard mixture evenly over the ingredients in the pie plate. Bake on the lowest rack in a 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, until quiche is golden brown on top and firm in the center.

Cut into generous slices and serve with a fruit salad of cut up Gala apples, mandarin orange segments, and raspberries! Delicious!

Yum! missjunebug has already dug into that Quichelicious dinner! Photo by mjb2011
Yum! missjunebug has already dug into that Quichelicious dinner! Photo by mjb2011
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missjunebug’s French Toast Perfection!

French Toast! So easy! So delicious! Photo by mjb2011
French Toast! So easy! So delicious! Photo by mjb2011

missjunebug is doing her mitzvah for the week: Making breakfast for her church’s winter shelter. Okay, she may be mixing religious metaphors here since she’s Lutheran, but she loves the Judaic idea of the good deed. According to adherents.com “When Mitzvah is considered to be an act of human kindness, it transcends all religions. While historically, Mitzvah is considered to be a term related to Judaism, anyone in any religion can perform a Mitzvah. While they may not refer to it by that name, they can still perform an act of kindness for another person.”

So there.

missjunebug really likes this idea! And she really likes her super simple Semi-Healthy Mega-Delicious recipe for missjunebug’s French Toast Perfection. She has her dear mother to thank for this recipe. missjunebug has made it for her boys since they were tiny bugs. She’s tweaked it a little, adding a little sugar, the tiniest bit of salt, and her secret ingredient, vanilla extract, but it remains inspired by her JBMom.

Consider cooking up this very forgiving recipe on a Saturday or Sunday morning and you, too, can enjoy missjunebug’s French Toast Perfection!

missjunebug’s French Toast Perfection

Ingredients

Orowheat Buttermilk Bread–14 slices

6 0r 7 eggs

1/2 cup or so of milk

1-2 tsps. of vanilla

1-2 T. sugar

Pinch of salt

Butter for the skillet or griddle

Powdered sugar for presentation

Real maple syrup for eating!

Directions

Wisk the eggs in a big bowl.  Add the milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt. The “batter” should be a soft creamy yellow color with a smooth consistency. Slice the bread on the diagonal to form triangles. Heat a good chunk of butter in a big skillet and when it barely sizzles, dip the bread triangles into the batter, shake off excess batter, and place in the skillet. Cook on both sides until crisp around the edges and golden brown. Yum!

Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and slather with real maple syrup!

Double Yum!

Feel free to freeze and eat at another time. To reheat, just set your oven to 375 degrees, place the french toast in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with Pam, and pop in the oven for 10 quick minutes!  What could be easier? Well, eating it, missjunebug guesses!

Lots of French Toast Ready for the Freezer! Photo by mjb2011
Lots of French Toast Ready for the Freezer! Photo by mjb2011

An Easy Way to Eat Healthy

A Tower O' Healthy Eats! Photo by mjb2010
A Tower O' Healthy Eats! Photo by mjb2010

missjunebug is on mission to reform her diet, especially after the tasty Thanksgiving detour she recently took. With Mr.JB out of town and Christmas trappings to joyfully distribute around the Hacienda, she didn’t want to waste time cooking for one. What to do? What to do?

Her answer: Deli Salads!!! Oh. my. yes. After her monthly appointment to flush her cath-port (another story, another time), she swung by Gelson’s to pick up food for the week in those handy little #1 containers. Such variety. Such deliciousness. And simple, simple, simple.

missjunebug had a tough time deciding but she finally settled on Wild Wheatberry Salad, Jessica’s Super Antioxidant Chopped Salad, Jessica’s Chopped Vegetable Barley Salad, Homemade Potato Salad, and Vegetable Greek Salad with Feta! And guess what? missjunebug bought enough little salads to get a #2-sized container of Fresh Fruit Salad for FREE!! Truly, life is good.

Okay, missjunebug knows what you’re thinking: Any indulgences? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, there was one. She also got a #1 container of Cornbread Stuffing. Since she suffers from a dearth, actually an entire absence of Thanksgiving leftovers, having enjoyed Thanksgiving at Mr.JB’s sister’s in Wisconsin, she had a leftover craving for Cornbread Stuffing. Yum. She ate that in place of the meat course! Brilliant!

The moral to this little food story? When you find yourself on your own, have a healthy food party for one with delicious deli salads! This is the kind of indulgence you can absolutely afford!

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missjunebug’s Homemade Kettle Corn Keeps Snacks Simple and Delicious!

Thanks for the help, Mr.JB! Photo by mjb2010
Thanks for the help, Mr.JB! Photo by mjb2010

missjunebug with the help of her steadfast Mr.JB performed a culinary experiment recently that was a resounding success: Homemade Kettle Corn. Simple. Sweet. Savory. and Capital Dee Licious!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1/2 cup Orville Redenbacher ‘s Original Gourmet Popping Corn

1/4 cup peanut oil or canola oil

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

Directions

1. Place oil in stove-top style popcorn popper with hand crank (for best results) or use a heavy saucepan with a secure lid. Heat oil over medium high heat.

2. Add popcorn kernels. When the oil just starts to sizzle, pour in sugar on top of the popcorn, cover, and keep turning the hand crank or shaking the pan while the popcorn begins to pop.

3. Continue to crank or shake until the popping slows or stops, around 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Pour the popcorn into a large bowl and sprinkle on the salt to taste.

mjbTip: Use a wood spoon to remove the popcorn. It’s a little tricky to remove from the pan because it’s a little stuck together, but persevere! It’s worth it!

The kettle corn keeps well in a large glass container for easy, delicious, and low calorie snacking (35-40 calories per cup). Popcorn is a high fiber, whole grain that you just can’t go wrong snacking on!

Kettle Corn Up Close! See the Sugary Sheen? Photo by mjb2010
Kettle Corn Up Close! See the Sugary Sheen? Photo by mjb2010
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missjunebug’s Not Quite Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Candy

Chocolate + Peanut Butter = Delicious x 10!
Chocolate + Peanut Butter = Delicious x 10!

One of the great benefits of closet clean-out is finding cool stuff long since forgotten. missjunebug had that very thing happen recently. What she found was a notebook of Pleistocene-era recipes she used to make on a pretty regular basis. If you ever need a sweet treat that’s easy to make and fun to eat, missjunebug encourages you to try this recipe.

missjunebug’s Not Quite Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Candy

Ingredients

12 oz. Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1 cup Jif Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky, your choice)

1 cup butter softened to room temperature

4 cups C & H Powdered Sugar

9 whole Honey Maid Graham Crackers (rolled into crumbs in a Zip-Loc bag)

Directions

1. Melt the chocolate chips in mixing bowl over a saucepan of water on medium heat. Set aside.

2. Mix together the peanut butter and butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar and the graham cracker crumbs.

3. Combine until no dry ingredients remain. Press by hand into a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ glass pan.

4. Spread the melted chocolate chips over the pressed mixture using an off-set spatula.

5. Before refrigerating, cut into small squares. These are good to go when the chocolate is completely set.

missjunebug finds these so rich you’ll only need one small square to satisfy! Unless you are Mr.JB, of course.

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missjunebug’s JBGranny’s Sponge Cake

Sweet! Simple! Sensational! Photo by mjb2010
Sweet! Simple! Sensational! Photo by mjb2010

What could be simpler than this delicious JBGranny’s Sponge Cake recipe? Follow the pictures to get one of your own to snack on! All you need is 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of flour, 4 eggs, separated, and the rind of one lemon!

Separate those four eggs! Beat the egg whites to soft peaks! Photo by mjb2010
Separate those four eggs! Beat the egg whites to soft peaks! Photo by mjb2010
Gently fold in the flour to the beaten egg yolks and sugar. Photo by mjb2010
Gently fold in the flour to the beaten egg yolks and sugar. Photo by mjb2010
Fold in the egg whites with care! Photo by mjb2010
Fold in the egg whites with care! Photo by mjb2010
Add the grated lemon rind to the mixture. Photo by mjb2010
Add the grated lemon rind to the mixture. Photo by mjb2010
Ready for the 350 degree oven for 30 minutes! Photo by mjb2010
Ready for the 350 degree oven for 30 minutes! Photo by mjb2010
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missjunebug’s Not Key Lime Pie

Oh. My. Yes. Not Key Lime Pie Perfection! Photo by mjb2010
Oh. My. Yes. Not Key Lime Pie Perfection! Photo by mjb2010

missjunebug thinks the lazy days of summer call for lazy desserts like her missjunebug’s Not Key Lime Pie, a cool and citrusy dessert that’s…well…as easy as pie!

Here’s all you need to do to make a delightful summery dessert that’s fresh and delicious!

Everything you need for your crust! Photo by mjb2010
Everything you need for the crust! Photo by mjb2010

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

1 pkg. graham crackers (1 ¼ cups)

3 T. sugar

5 T. butter, melted

Rolling pin the graham crackers into crumbs in a large Ziploc bag. Pour into 9” pie plate. Add sugar and blend with crumbs. Add melted butter and press down into pie pan as well as up the sides of the pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes.

Not Key Lime Pie Filling

3 eggs yolks

1 can Carnation Sweetened Condensed Milk

½ c. lime juice (Larger Persian limes work just fine for Not Key Lime Pie!)

2 tsp. lime zest

Beat egg yolks with hand mixer until smooth and creamy looking, about 2-3 minutes.

Add condensed milk slowly, using hand mixer to incorporate, about 3-4 minutes.

Blend in the lime juice and zest. Pour into pie filling and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until firm.

Add three egg yolks and voila! Photo by mjb2010
Add three egg yolks and voila! Photo by mjb2010

Separate yolks in the palm of your hand. Photo by mjb2010
Separate yolks in the palm of your hand. Photo by mjb2010
Mix until smooth. Photo by mjb2010
Mix until smooth. Photo by mjb2010
Mix in the sweetened condensed milk! Photo by mjb2010
Mix in the sweetened condensed milk! Photo by mjb2010
Add the not key lime juice. Photo by mjb2010
Add the not key lime juice. Photo by mjb2010
Don't forget the not key lime zest! Photo by mjb2010
Don't forget the not key lime zest! Photo by mjb2010
Pour into graham cracker pie crust! Photo by mjb2010
Pour into graham cracker pie crust! Photo by mjb2010
Ready for the oven! Photo by mjb2010
Ready for the oven! Photo by mjb2010
The delightful result: Not Key Lime Pie! Photo by mjb2010
The delightful result: Not Key Lime Pie! Photo by mjb2010

Optional Topping

1 cup Horizon Organic Heavy Whipped Cream

2-3 T. granulated sugar

Whip up the cream with a hand mixer. Gradually add the sugar and whip until the cream forms soft peaks. Slather on top of the Not Key Lime Pie and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yum x 10!

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missjunebug’s Bread Recommendation of the Decade: TJ’s Tuscan Pane

mjb says "Thanks, TJ's" for this awesome bread! Photo by mjb2010
mjb says "Thanks, TJ's" for this awesome bread! Photo by mjb2010

Perhaps the title to this blog is a bit much, but missjunebug can’t say enough good things about this good bread! Trader Joe‘s Tuscan Pane “A Stone Hearth Oven-Baked Classic Italian Bread” lives up to its name: It is a classic! And squisito! And missjunebug hearts it big time!

Perfect for toast, even more perfect for grilled cheese! Believe her when she says you should swing by your local T.J.’s and pick up a loaf today! The “crisp crust” and “chewy interior” will not disappoint!

missjunebug owes her friend and neighbor M. who brought a loaf to her a while back as a little get well gift (along with soup and super treats, too) a big THANKS for introducing her to this lovely loaf!

Oh. my. yes. Delicious for Toast & the Perfect Grilled Cheese! Photo by mjb2010
Oh. my. yes. Delicious for Toast & the Perfect Grilled Cheese! Photo by mjb2010
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