Tag Archives: Food

missjunebug’s Pumpkins in a Pot

A Bumper Crop! Two, count 'em Two Pumpkins!!! Photo by mjb2014
A Bumper Crop! Two, count ’em Two Pumpkins!!! Photo by mjb2014

missjunebug has been thinking about growing pumpkins for a long time. A few years ago she tried a little plot down by her barn and had some healthy vines with beautiful yellow-gold blossoms thriving for the briefest while: gophers took out the roots and dashed all mjb’s hopes for homegrown pumpkins. Sigh.

This year she tried again with a clever internet idea (Thanks, Google! The question: Can I grow pumpkins in a pot?). The answer, yes! But despite the promising prodigious growth of leaves and vines and blossoms from her Home Depot 2″ pot pumpkin plant, missjunebug’s less-than-bumper crop was tiny x 2.

Mr.JB thinks most of the blossoms didn’t get fertilized. missjunebug thinks most of the blossoms weren’t ever open long enough to get fertilized due to the sometimes shady spot she placed the pot.

No matter. She will enjoy the two she grew this year and try again next year in a raised bed that’s gopher proof. Happy Fall! Happy Halloween!

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 Latest Love: Bottega Louie

Bottega Louie has it going on. Photo by mjb2014
Bottega Louie has it going on. Photo by mjb2014

“Je t’aime, je t’aime toujours, Monsieur B. Louie!” says missjunebug.

All her ladies-who-lunch dreams came true recently at 700 South Grand Avenue where Bottega Louie holds court over downtown Los Angeles. The physical space is large and white; the atmosphere,  lively and inviting. For just a brief moment, missjunebug thought she had been transported to Paris, especially when she got a good look at the patisserie. Row after row of exquisitely decorated desserts and pastries, creamy, fruity, flaky, fabulous!

Just take a look:

A patisserie in Los Angeles worthy of Paris! Photo by mjb2014
A patisserie in Los Angeles worthy of Paris! Photo by mjb2014

Of course, Bottega Louie presents more than pastry. The café has salads, soups, pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches.  missjunebug delighted in the Caprese salad (tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, fleur de sel, cracked pepper & extra virgin olive oil) and the Asparagus and Poached Egg small plate. Believe missjunebug when she says the flavors were not small, nor the portions! missjunebug’s lovely companion (who introduced her to Bottega Louie on their recent field trip) enjoyed the savory Club sandwich. 

Happily, mjb and her dear friend saved room for dessert from the très jolie patisserie! Imagine whipped cream, flaky pastry, vanilla, caramel, and more! Fruit tarts! Eclairs! Beignets! Macarons!  Here’s what they enjoyed:

Oh. my. yes. De. Licious. Photo by mjb2014
Oh. my. yes. De. Licious. Photo by mjb2014

Note the prayerfully folded hands of mjb’s dear friend! Yes! They were thankful to God in heaven for these heavenly desserts!

Brave the 101 and the 110 and get yourself downtown. missjunebug promises you will be transported to another world in of all places downtown L.A. Things are looking up in the City of Angels!

mjbTip: check out Bottega Louie’s welcoming website for further details: www.bottegalouie.com

Sawasdee in Simi Valley: Thai Thai Again!

Green Curry: Silky, Savory, Sublime! Photo by mjb2014
Green Curry: Silky, Savory, Sublime! Photo by mjb2014

How do you say “Hi” in Thai?

Try “Sawasdee.” Once you’ve perfected that greeting, you can move on to the Sawasdee Thai Restaurant and meet and greet some delicious dishes!

Sawasdee Thai Restaurant in Simi Valley comes recommended to missjunebug by way of her fabulous haircutter at The New Technique located in the same unadorned L-shaped Strip (Mini) Mall. missjunebug recommends both of them highly!

Recently after a fab haircut, missjunebug popped into Sawasdee Thai for a little lunch. She had the magical, sliver-thin Silver Noodles with chicken and super fresh veggies! So good it cannot be described in mere words. You must sample for yourself…soon!

Sawasdee has even passed the Trusty MrJB food crucible: Are the Koy See Me crispy noodles awesome or just average? MrJB votes AWESOME! missjunebug moved onto the glorious Green Curry for her Sawasdee dinner indulgence and that silky, savory, sublime substance did not disappoint! For missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB, the signifier of a great restaurant is the simple answer to the simple question: Do you want to eat here again? The answer for a Sawasdee Thai Restaurant return is a resounding Yes!

If you are in the Valley of Simi soon, enjoy Sawasdee Thai at 1960 Sequoia Ave. This place maybe a little out of the way, but the food is way, way wonderful.

 

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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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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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Black-Eyed Peas = Good Eating and Good Luck!

 

Check out these Black-Eyed Peas in the Pod!!! Photo by mjb2013
Check out these Black-Eyed Peas in the Pod!!! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug had a fine time recently at Underwood Family Farm in Moorpark playing Farmer-for-the-Day! It’s black-eyed pea pickin’ season and the good people at Underwood have rows and rows of bushy black-eyed pea plants just waiting for pick-your-own peeps to drop by and fill up their bags with these beautiful peas famous in the South. They even have a restaurant named after them! Yes! The Black-Eyed Pea! A pretty decent place to eat all your southern faves when you’re in the South: cornbread, okra, collard greens, black-eyed peas (natch!), fried chicken, and, well you get the idea.

missjunebug donned her straw hat, hiking boots, old jeans, hiking shirt, and super bright orange garden gloves in preparation for taking on row after row of pea plants. She garnered four bags full o’ peas ripe for the shelling. Picking is really the easy part. Once she got home, she had to start the labor intensive task of shelling each individual black-eyed pea pod and popping out those beautiful peas. Fun times!

She’s still got a few (hundred!) to go, but she’s managed to Zip-loc lots of peas for the deep freeze. missjunebug will have plenty to eat on New Year’s Day 2014, making sure she covers her year with good luck by eating black-eyed peas that day, one for every day of good luck! Okay, not really. A bowlful will do.  She might explode if she actually ate 365 peas in one sitting.

Fresh, Young Black-Eyed Peas! Get busy shelling! Photo by mjb2013
Fresh, Young Black-Eyed Peas! Get busy shelling! Photo by mjb2013

Here’s a simple recipe from missjunebug’s Aunt Mary that pleases the pea palate!

Black-Eyed Peas that Please

Ingredients

1 1/2-2 cups of shelled fresh black-eyed peas

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 slices uncooked bacon for flavor

1-3 shakes Tabasco

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Place peas in a saucepan. Cover with water. Add chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, sliced bacon, Tabasco, salt and pepper. Stir. Heat on medium heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat for a continuous simmer for about 20 minutes or until peas are slightly firm, not mushy. Adjust seasonings. Enjoy.

Eat with cornbread, over rice, or just on their own with the delicious soupy juice they are cooked in! You might have to have some serious Southern roots to enjoy these beauties, but keep an open mind and give them a try. They are delicious, nutritious, and lucky!

mjbTip: It’s fun to be a Farmer-for-the Day!

Don't forget your Underwood Family Farms Frequent Farmer Card! Photo by mjb2013
Don’t forget your Underwood Family Farms Frequent Farmer Card! Photo by mjb2013

 

Helpful Info If You Want To Be a Farmer-for-the-Day! Photo by mjb2013
Helpful Info If You Want To Be a Farmer-for-the-Day! Photo by mjb2013
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Tomato Time = Salad Success!

 

Captivating Caprese! Ciao Bella! Photo by mjb2013
Captivating Caprese! Ciao Bella! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug has recently discovered Salads for Breakfast! She’s not quite sure what got her started on this, but she’s pretty much left conventional breakfasts behind–except for her occasional bowl of homemade granola.

This is the perfect time to tomato up early in the day. Here are a couple of inspired salads to get you started thinking: Salad for Breakfast! Grab those homegrown or farmer’s market tomatoes and dig in!

Caprese Salad

Tomatoes of your choice–missjunebug likes Romas and on-the-vine organic finds

Fresh mozzarella cheese

Fresh basil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper–lots of it!

Slice the tomatoes and cheese to the thickness you prefer. Arrange on a plate alternating tomato, cheese, and basil or create your own artistic arrangement as missjunebug has done with a big pile of basil surrounded by tomatoes and cheese. Be creative!

Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Finish with salt and pepper. Enjoy every fresh bite of this Italian salad delight!

The perfect breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Photo by mjb2013
The perfect breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug came across this next salad at Lake Powell Resort in Page, Arizona when she and trusty Mr.JB were doing some eclipse chasing. This is a blast to the past recipe reminiscent of the Iceberg Wedge with Bacon, Tomato, and Blue Cheese. Very old school but very delightful to the taste buds and appealing to the eye!

missjunebug’s Bacon, Tomato, and Blue Cheese Salad

3 slices of crispy bacon

1 large chopped tomato

1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

Thinly sliced red onion

Big pile of shredded iceberg lettuce (or add romaine for more texture)

Wishbone Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

Arrange the lettuce on a plate. Scatter the tomatoes around the lettuce. Add crumbled bacon and blue cheese crumbles. Scatter red onions strategically around the plate! Top with chunky blue cheese dressing. Finish with salt and pepper! Done!

Best blend of tomatoes, bacon, blue cheese, and red onion. Yum! Photo by mjb2013

Of course, these salads are great anytime of the day, but try to break free of breakfast expectations by trying salad instead! missjunebug is sure you won’t regret it!

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In Not Of

Food Hall Plaza Hotel NYC Easter Bunny, Hunny! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug wishes you a Happy Easter! Happy Spring! Happy Life!

May the E.B. be good to you and bring you lots of velvety chocolate rabbits (eat the ears first) and daffodil-yellow peeps (these keep forever!) in your Easter basket. Dye eggs! Hide eggs! Find eggs! Make deviled eggs! (Check out missjunebug’s fab recipe on this very website!)

Eat brunch! Drink champagne! Feast on glazed ham and roasted asparagus! Embrace family and friends and pets! Enjoy the delights of this earthly life!

The beauty of the season and her tiny place on the planet inspired missjunebug to wax poetic and spiritual, a little rhyme-y, but a little serious, too!

For your consideration:

In Not Of

Hearts look above,

Hands work below.

Human beings:

God’s dream.

A sun rises, sets;

Flesh, blood

Shed red regrets.

Hearts look within,

Hands pray to mend

What can’t be mended.

In not of

God’s Son Rises

Wrapped in love.

Hearts look above,

Hands work below,

Souls stir, then know.

 

 

 

 

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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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Cow Cookies! missjunebug Loves These!

The other day missjunebug had a few pieces of art work to pick up from her fave framer in Ventura: Gonzalez Framing. They’re located on 4160 Market St. #4 Ventura, CA 93003 (805) 477-0749. She’s had many, many pieces framed here and has never been disappointed in their work. They are perfectionists, and they use the best materials to protect and to enhance special art pieces.

Here’s one she recently had framed. Won’t it look great in her newly painted kitchen? Oh. my. yes.

What a great framing job for missjunebug's chickens! Thanks Gonzalez Framing!

So what does this have to do with Cow Cookies? Well, right after missjunebug picked up her awesomely framed art works, she realized it was time for a little lunch. Right around the corner (practically) from Gonzalez Framing is Royal Bakery & Cafe. This little gem of a lunch spot is located at 4726 Telephone Rd. Ventura, CA 93003 (805) 658-6030. They have a wonderful menu including soups, salads, sandwiches, quiches, pizza, desserts, and coffee. What more could you ask for on a cafe menu? missjunebug had the divine Tuna Pesto Melt on French bread. Such a delicious mix of tuna, red onion, celery, and pesto, topped with melted cheddar and toasted to perfection. She suspects all the menu items are equally delightful to the taste buds.

Which does finally bring her to the Cow Cookies. These big and tender iced gems are shaped like dairy cows each marked with its own pattern of cow spots. Cute! Clever! Fun! and Delicious! She took six of them home with her in a congenial little box.

Check out two of her Cow Cookies and then check out Royal Bakery & Cafe a.s.a.p. You won’t be sorry. Especially if you rustle up some Cow Cookies to take home with you!

Cow Cookies Rule! Photo by mjb2012
Each Cow Cookie has its own unique design! Photo by mjb2012

 

A nifty box for Cow Cookie transport! Photo by mjb2012
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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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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

Statue of St Patrick from Agahower.
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug wishes you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day today. She had a fine time eating her corned beef and cabbage lunch at the local hospital where she volunteers. The St. Patty’s Day Lunch Special was delicious!

Since everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, missjunebug would like to leave you with this little Irish Blessing that she learned when TinyJB attended Notre Dame, the home of the Fighting Irish:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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missjunebug’s Homage to Oprah’s Vegan Challenge

missjunebug appreciates Oprah and her almost-over-forever show, some shows more than others. Today was a some-more-than-others day! Michael Pollan of Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. fame shared his views about coming to terms with our meat-crazy culture, and Lisa Ling gave viewers an unprecedented, up close and grisly look into a Cargill “Meat Solutions” plant. Both gave missjunebug pause.

Michael P. and Lisa L.’s comments encourage food consciousness in Americans who are oblivious and hearty meat eaters, quick to opt for fast food, an industry that helps drive the slaughter of billions of animals a year. Neither recommends going vegan necessarily, leaving that to the personal decision of the viewer, but each sees value in knowing the truth and answering honestly Where’s the beef? It’s in the Temple Grandin tunnel about to get a four-inch bolt to the brain! That’s where.

missjunebug, for one, appreciates being reminded where her hamburger comes from. It’s easy to forget when she’s just grabbing a tidy, plastic-wrapped disk of frozen bright pink meat out of her local market’s freezer. She’s been going meatless several meals a week and Mr.JB, svelte and getting svelter is fine with the idea, too. What she doesn’t get is why people want to eat pretend meat products made of soy protein isolates instead that just aren’t that good for you! Ms. Freston of Veganist fame had no hesitation in recommending these suspicious replacements for meat. Tofurkey?? No thurk you!

And that’s enough to get missjunebug thinking about a few things. Why not try to cook up some plant-based meals instead of making the knee-jerk selection of the product that resembles meat just because it resembles meat. Break free a few days a week and dig into whole grains, beans, legumes, veggies, and fruits! The possiblities are endless. Here’s just one recipe missjunebug cooked up for dinner tonight in less than 10 minutes!

missjunebug’s Tomato, Garbanzo, and Spinach Scramble Minus the Eggs

Ingredients

4 small tomatoes, quartered

1/2 cup garbanzo beans

1/2 bag baby spinach

1/2 T. olive oil

1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cooked brown rice

Directions

In a small skillet, drizzle in 1/2 T. olive oil. Heat gently. Add the quartered tomatoes, stir in the garbanzos. Add a shake or two of balsamic vinegar. Stir in the spinach and cook down to a nice juicy mix of flavors and colors. Add kosher salt and pepper to taste. Serve over brown rice. Serves one. Yum.

missjunebug's Vegan Dinner! Photo by mjb2011
missjunebug's Vegan Dinner! Photo by mjb2011

Today missjunebug was inspired by the Vegan Challenge and cooked up a little entree for dinner that fully qualified. She suggests you get inspired, too!

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Kringle! missjunebug’s New Fav

Here's the Vital Contact Info for Kringles Sent Straight to Your Home! Photo by mjb2011
Here's the Vital Contact Info for Kringles Sent Straight to Your Home! Photo by mjb2011

If missjunebug hadn’t gone shopping for TinyJB in her last visit to the Midwest, she would still be blithely unaware of one of the most delicious breakfasts treats on the planet! Thank goodness TinyJB needed a few grocery items in his kitchen (except beer, of course! Plenty of that in the frig!).

She enjoyed her very first Kringle sitting around TinyJB’s breakfast table last fall, enjoying the company of TinyJB, his cute as a button friend Leslie from Michigan, and Mr.JB. What a great impromptu breakfast! Cherry Kringle: A flaky, flat oval with fab cherry filling topped with the most delicious icing. It’s like a squashed filled donut sans frying! Brilliant!!!! Those Midwesterners know what’s good to eat and drink. (For another post, another time missjunebug will delve into the wonders of the Milkwaukee Lakeside Brewery Beers! Skol!).

missjunebug needed more!! (Kringle, not Brewski)!!! But sadly the JBs had a plane to catch and a re-supply for take-home was not meant to be.

Enter the Awesome Ricks!!! For Christmas the JBboys and missjunebug and Mr.JB received Kringles for the holidays and beyond. missjunebug is now a member of the Kringle of the Month Club as mentioned in her post-Christmas post!!! (Thanks again, Awesome Ricks!!) What a lasting reminder of the holiday festivities that she can bust out on her breakfast table whatever morning she wishes! Deliciousness x 10!! And, yes, she tracks the calories (1/12 of the oval = 250) on My Daily Plate at www.livestrong.com and believe her when she ways it’s worth every single one of those pesky calories to enjoy the oval icing-slathered, fruit-filled or other-filled wonder Kringle!!!

Decidedly NOT Ashram approved, but missjunebug cannot live by steel-cut oats alone!

Here's the Cinnamon Kringle Close-up! Photo by mjb2011
Here's the Cinnamon Kringle Close-up! 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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A Savory Combination: Celtic Woman and Sabor Cocina Mexicana

missjunebug had a great dinner date with a dear friend the other night. It all began at the festive Sabor Cocina Mexicana at the Lakes in Thousand Oaks. Yum x 10 describes this upscale Mexican restaurant with margaritas so big you can dunk your entire face in them, but better to drink them! They reminded missjunebug a little bit of Buca di Beppo‘s “meatballs as big as your head.” Mega portion and a price to match, but missjunebug assures you that you won’t have to order more than one!

As for food, delicious, too and so artistically presented! As pretty as the Sabor Cocina decorative aesthetic! missjunebug loved her Chicken Enchilada Suizas and her friend enjoyed the organic Chicken Tacos under the glow of the red heart chandelier. Just take a look:

Enchiladas Suizas! Photo by mjb2010
Enchiladas Suizas! Photo by mjb2010
Organic Chicken Tacos! Photo by mjb2010
Organic Chicken Tacos! Photo by mjb2010
What a Chandelier! missjunebug Hearts It! Photo by mjb2010
What a Chandelier! missjunebug Hearts It! Photo by mjb2010
Better Than Paint or Wallpaper: Gorgeous Mexican Tiles! Photo by mjb2010
Better Than Paint or Wallpaper: Gorgeous Mexican Tiles! Photo by mjb2010

After their delicious meal, missjunebug and her friend strolled over to the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza for their dessert: the sweet-as-treacle ensemble Celtic Woman. This group gives new meaning to the phrase “Go Irish!” Their music was an endearing mix of old standards (“Danny Boy” comes to mind) and lively fiddle-inspired Irish jigs that kept the audience clapping and smiling well after the conclusion of the performance. Okay, so missjunebug couldn’t live on a steady diet of this type of music, but for one night she enjoyed it thoroughly!

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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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