Tag Archives: Fun Food Finds!

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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Texas-Style BBQ in SoCali: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

A Plateful of Wonderful! Photo by mjb2014
A Plateful of Wonderful! Photo by mjb2014

missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB checked out a local restaurant recently (Yes, again! They eat out a lot!) that exceeded all expectations: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Simi Valley.

This little hole-in-the-wall located in the same center Border’s used to be in on Tapo Canyon Blvd. is unassuming, friendly, and fun. Oh yeah, and the food is great, too! Brisket! Hot rolls! Polish sausage! Fried okra! Coleslaw! Coca-cola (not the P-word)! Free soft serve ice-cream for dessert! There are a ton of other tasty items on their menu board and believe missjunebug when she says that they are truly Texas worthy!

This hot little franchise originated in Dallas, home of the best barbecue in the world: Red’s Barbecue. Nothing tops that family fave that missjunebug grew up on (Thanks, JBDad for all that smokey, wood-fired, ReeDiculously Delicious brisket cooked up in the backyard on long, lazy, humid, pecan tree-shaded weekends. May you r.i.p, Red! XOXO). But Dickey’s gives it a good try and pretty much succeeds in pleasing mjb’s palate.

According to Dickey’s website, “Today, every location smokes all of their meats on-site at the restaurant the same way it was done in 1941. Dickey’s serves up beef brisket, pulled pork, ham, polish sausage, turkey breast and chicken, with an extensive array of home-style sides from jalapeño beans to macaroni and cheese. Buttery rolls are served with every meal along with the complimentary ice cream and dill pickles. And just like always, kids eat free on Sunday.”

What? Kids eat free on Sunday! Way to go, Dickey’s! That’s a family-friendly deal fo sho!

missjunebug hopes you’ll give Dickey’s a try with or without kidlets,  just so you can experience the mouth-watering wonder of a smoke-soaked, juicy barbecue brisket like her dear JBDad used to make. It is a thing of savory wonder!

If you are in SoCali or just about anywhere across the nation, (many Dickey’s franchises have sprung up since 1941!) check out Dickey’s and try the brisket and fried okra–the f.o. tastes much better than you are thinking right about now!

missjunebug visited the Dickey’s at 2902 Tapo Canyon Road Simi Valley, CA 93063
(805) 577-7675, but you can find them in Ventura, Northridge, Pasadena, and a few other SoCali locales. And you better believe they are all over Dallas! Take a quick trip to their colorful website and find out all Dickey’s has to offer. missjunebug is happy to recommend the flavors of her childhood summed up in a smokey brisket! Enjoy!

If you happen to be vegetarian, well, Dickey’s may not be for you, unless you don’t mind just eating awesome side dishes! In which case, skip looking at the cool cow chart below and check out the menu board for sumptuous sides!

Brisket in the beef cut chart.
Brisket in the beef cut chart. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's Looking Up at Dickey's! Photo by mjb2014
Things are Looking Up at Dickey’s! Photo by mjb2014
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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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Coca Cola Company Gets Creative

Ticket for free glass of Coca-Cola, believed t...
Ticket for free glass of Coca-Cola, believed to be the first coupon ever. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug has spent more than a few blog posts praising the wonderful taste of Coca Cola, her final remaining vice. But rest assured she only occasionally indulges her love of the burn-at-the-back-of-the-throat sensation! No really.

That said (read: confessed), today’s post is in praise of the global experimentation Coca Cola is up to in improving their products.

Coke is going green with Coca Cola Life, a product currently being marketed in Argentina. Love that Classic Cursive white on red or red on white script? Now think green! A stevia + sugar-sweetened drink with half the calories of Coca Cola Classic has been rolled out for lucky Argentinians to enjoy with a stevia-inspired green design. Will it go worldwide? Time will tell! But missjunebug likes the idea of using the plant-based sweetener plus a little sugar to keep the taste close to the Real Thing.

What’s next for the world according to Coke? How about a Coca Cola in an ice bottle with that familiar cursive etched into the bottle? You read that right! The bottle is made from 100% frozen water with just a slim rubber red band stamped with the Coke logo that provides a comfortable hold while you drink down the super cold pause that refreshes. After you have satisfied your thirst, the bottle goes the way of the typical ice cube and melts away!

Lucky Columbia is the only country currently selling the ice bottle, mostly at beaches (at the rate of  approximately 265 bottles per hour by beachside vendors!!), but if the early results are any indication, Coke might just roll out this environmentally friendly no-recycling-required icy container to the rest of the world. Brilliant! Green! Flavorful!

missjunebug salutes Coca Cola for its innovation, environmental awareness and design fun–that red bracelet is wearable and super cool!

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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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Pacific Crepes: A Little Bit of France in Santa Barbara

Crepes
Crepes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB enjoyed a field trip recently to Santa Barbara in search of a taste of France. missjunebug thought it would be the perfect Mother’s Day treat for her, and Mr.JB really had no choice since it was Mother’s Day after all! They recently returned from a fab trip to Paris, and they were beginning to miss the fine French cuisine, especially savory crêpes!

missjunebug just googled Ventura County + crêpes and Pacific Crêpes rose to the top of the Google search. The P.C. website is very helpful: menus, location, hours, even a cool story in the news about the history of the restaurant and a little bit about the French family who brought Pacific Crêpes into being!

If you find yourself in need of a change of food pace from the usual breakfast, lunch, or dinner, check out Pacific Crêpes. missjunebug highly recommends the delicious La Francaise with two over easy eggs, Swiss cheese, and ham, folded up along the edges to perfectly contain all that savory goodness. They brew up an awesome cappuccino, too! The ambience is French bistro-ish and even has a couple of tables for al fresco dining. What a fun food find! What a great place to enjoy it!

Pacific Crêpes is located at 705 Anacapa Street in Santa Barbara. Call 805-882-1123 for ressies and show up from 9-9 Saturday, 9-3 Sunday, or Monday-Friday 10-3 and 5:30 to 9. Like all true French, the staff takes a break and has a life!

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missjunebug Recommends…

Bread perfected: The croissant! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug has been busy lately traveling, returning home, regrouping, doing laundry, catching up with bill paying, etc., etc., the usual maintenance post travel, but she’s also been thinking about some recommendations she’d like to share with you.

So here goes:

Download (and pay for!) Justin Timberlake‘s new album 20/20. It is the best music to walk to missjunebug has come across in a long time (and dance to, too!). The songs are stellar and many great ones await you beyond “Suit and Tie.” which you’ve probably already heard about 100 times by now. (missjunebug still loves “S&T” no matter how many times she’s heard it.) And truth be told she has a big crush on J.T. She hearts him BIGTIME. Lucky Jessica Biel. Seriously.

Check out anything written by Tim Ferriss. This guy has got it going on with his Four Hour protocols. Currently missjunebug and members of her dear fam are reading The Four-Hour Chef, The Four-Hour Body, and plan to read The Four-Hour Work Week. missjunebug really doesn’t need The Four-Hour Work Week, since her work week is even less than that! Ha! Seriously, these books are so smart, so entertaining, and so helpful you will not be disappointed!. T.F. is a phenom.

Read anything written by Julian Barnes. Right now. Really. Go get one of his books. He is one smart Brit. missjunebug recommends The Sense of an Ending and Levels of Life. Okay, missjunebug has actually only read The Sense of an Ending and Levels of Life, but she plans to read all of his books a.s.a.p. because she’s sure the others are equally great!

Eat some croissants. They are so yummy: crunchy, buttery, layers of delicious bready air! How did the French ever come up with these? Beyond brilliant. missjunebug recommends that you eat these in Paris for the best croissant experience ever! And after you eat some croissants, make yourself some crepes. They are super easy to make using Krusteaz pancake mix and a great crepe pan. missjunebug recommends a made-in-France de Buyer which makes crepe making super fun. Of course, you can make crepe batter from scratch, but the Krusteaz is easy peasy and delicious. Just make sure if you are following the The Four-Hour Body  eating plan (which you will be after reading Tim Ferriss’s book) that you save these for your 7th day where you can eat whatever you want! Vive la France and vive Tim Ferriss!

Speaking of Paris, missjunebug recommends checking out travelingprofessor.com for excellent travel trips and guided tours in France, Italy, and South America. They are reasonably priced, informative, not too touristy, and fun, fun, fun. missjunebug and her Mr.JB just returned from a week in Paris and a few days in Normandy. It really pays to get to know a city by spending time in it as opposed to a quick cruise-port-of-call fly by in a tourist bus. missjunebug has done both and she’s likes the get-to-know-where-you-are-for-awhile walkabout much better!

Whew! That’s about it for recs for now!

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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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My oh my missjunebug LOVES pie!

Pumpkin pie, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki...
Pumpkin pie, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Pumpkin_Pie.jpg Scrumptious and good for you! Pumpkin pie is loaded with a healthful phytonutrient called beta-carotene. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug got back into the country from the Land Down Under just in time to start baking pies for Thanksgiving! She’s sticking with the traditional tried and true Libby’s Pumpkin Pie and Karo Syrup Pecan Pie. You can’t go wrong with the classics! She throws in a Harvest Pie for good measure that provides a mouthwatering mouthful of Granny Smith apples and Ocean Spray cranberries. She’ll share that recipe as soon as she makes her trip to the market to gather the necessary ingredients…absolutely the hardest part of the whole process!

Speaking of desserts, please God don’t let Hostess go out of business! That’s just wrong! Life without the occasional Twinkie or handful of Donettes–powdered sugared or chocolate iced–is not worth living!

English: Hostess Twinkies. Yellow snack cake w...
English: Hostess Twinkies. Yellow snack cake with cream filling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

missjunebug wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving! It is far and away the best holiday of the year. The focus of Thanksgiving remains where it should: on friends, family, feasting, and fun. What more could a holiday merrymaker ask for except maybe another slice of pie, please! My oh my missjunebug loves pie!

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Ode to Candy Corn

English: Candy corn, specifically Brach's cand...
English: Candy corn, specifically Brach's candy corn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

White pointy head

Orange body quadrilateral

Yellow Gumby feet

Bite the base first,

Then the body.

Save the tippy tip

for last: a light, bright,

sugary sweet tiny bite.

“Made with Real Honey”

offers the perfect pretext

to eat first one

then another

and another to 19 for

a less than 150

calorie

treat!

missjunebug wants to assure you that her love of Brach’s Candy Corn–yes it has to be Brach’s–is unleashed only once a year on the First Day of Fall, give or take a day or two for just a few weeks. This seasonal favorite recalls all the best of autumn days giving way to the spooky nights of October and culminating in carved pumpkins and costumed revelry.  missjunebug encourages you to think about your seasonal favs and to join her in her seasonal cheer: “All for Fall!”

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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 Clean Well-Lighted Blog and a Good Home-Cooked Meal

The best chocolate sheet cake.  Ever.
The best chocolate sheet cake. Ever. (Photo credit: Appletini ?)

missjunebug cooked last night! A complete chickeny meal with two side veggies, a creamy risotto, and a rockin’ dessert! Who does she have to thank for this not-so-everyday occurrence? That unrivaled blogger The Pioneer Woman and missjunebug’s inspiration, ElderJB!

As an occasional blogger herself, missjunebug is truly inspired by the blogs of others and Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman blog tops the list of blogs worth checking out. This blog has everything and missjunebug’s blog looks really Mickey Mouse in comparison (no offense, MM!). The only things missjunebug can hold against PW is that she’s from Oklahoma and she graduated from USC. What an unfortunate combination! missjunebug says this with the authority of being a Texan who graduated from UT Austin (Hook ‘Em Horns!). That said, The Pioneer Woman is truly inspiring especially by way of the recipes presented and the outrageously good photos of the cooking process that documents every possible step and then some.

missjunebug thought it was time for some home cooking for her ElderJB who is visiting from his home-away-from-home, Rwanda. Yes, she’d made the requisite Easter ham and pineapple stuffing for Sunday’s celebration, but the junebugs had managed to dine out quite a bit, too, so it was time for some home-cooked nutrition to round things out.

The two vegetable sides were simple: bacon-laced green beans and glazed carrots. Yum. The requisite starch? (requisite must be the Word of the Day!!) Lundberg’s Parmesan Risotto, simple and simply wonderful and done in 20! The main course? Ree’s Chicken in Mustard Sauce laced with plenty of whole grain mustard, a dollop of Grey Poupon, and a full cup of brandy. That’s what missjunebug is talkin’ about! Throw in some garlic and cream, and you’ve got a crave-able sauce that embraces chicken like no other! missjunebug won’t waste your time re-writing the recipe here: check it out on Pioneer Woman yourself when you need something delicious and not too complicated.

Now on to the really important part: the dessert! The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever. missjunebug heartily concurs with naming this Texas-size sheet cake the best ever because it is the best ever! This recipe is not exactly easy. There are some steps involved that take some time, melting butter, stirring in lots and lots of cocoa, mixing sugar and flour and stirring pretty much nonstop for a while, then pretty much repeating these same steps for the decadent icing but it is so worth it! Check out The Pioneer Woman for this recipe and make it very, very soon. You will be thanking yourself for days!

Not only is The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever. a great dessert, it makes an awesome breakfast with a big glass of cold milk (non-fat, natch!). And, yes, that’s what missjunebug had for breakfast this morning!

Let’s hear it for homecomings and home cooking!

 

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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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missjunebug’s Plethora of POPular Culture Goings-On

This Little Sticker Takes You on a Walk Through Three Chinese Dynasties! Photo by mjb2011

missjunebug should probably be booted from blogging for that post title, but oh well. She has a few observations and recommendations that don’t really deserve more than a passing mention so she’s lumping them all together in a pretty disorganized media miscellany. So here goes:

She finds it pretty cool that Ken Burn’s new PBS documentary Prohibition is airing in close proximity to the new season for HBO‘s acclaimed series Boardwalk Empire. Sometimes the stars and planets align perfectly to provide delight. Most poignant scene in B.E‘s first episode? The Great War’s veteran and partner to upstart Jimmy Darmody tucked away in his room meticulously cutting out pictures of happy families from magazines and carefully glueing them into his scrapbook of Impossible Dreams for a Normal Life (missjunebug’s title!). Not likely to happen with half a face. Heartwrench!

Speaking of heartwrench: AplusK plus Mrs.Kutcher no more? To quote Project Runway’s Nina Garcia, “It’s just so sad!” But missjunebug will take AplusK’s advice and not assume anything! She hopes for the best for both. And she’d like to remind the gossips and the media stalkers of this powerful celebrity duo of the wise Jewish proverb: “What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your tongue.”

missjunebug’s fav cooking series on HGTV worth a look: Chopped! hosted by one of the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy guys. The money part of the show? The competition is completed in just one hour! No need to watch week after week to see who wins. missjunebug knows you know how many talent/reality HGTV shows use the tune-in-forever-to-figure-out-who-wins format. Annoying x 10. The chefs in Chopped! have wack ingredients for three menu items: appetizer, entree, and dessert. And voila! A loser is mercilessly chopped round by round until there’s one chef standing. All within one hour! Brilliant!

New series actor not to be missed? Zooey Deschanel on New Girl. What a quirky, lovable character she plays! missjunebug suspects she is not working against type in playing the zany Jess. The beauty part to missjunebug is that she’s playing a teacher who is not too cool for school like that red meanie Sue Sylvester! Jess’s just right! And so is Z. Deschanel.

Best movie bet: Moneyball with Brad Pitt. missjunebug is a football fan from way, way back; baseball? not so much. But Moneyball is about thinking outside the box or the baseline, not baseball per se. It also doesn’t hurt to see it at the local Muvico with her p.i.c. in luxe seats while eating free popcorn and drinking a Pilsner glass full of Stella. Oh. my. yes. Time well spent. missjunebug’s SAG vote for best male performance in a film in 2011 will mos def go to Mr. Pitt.

One last popular goings-on: The new exhibit at missjunebug’s and Mr.JB’s fav museum: The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. The curators here must have a direct line to Beijing and Xian because they’ve done it again putting together a rad collection of Chinese artifacts in their new show Warriors, Tombs, and Temples. missjunebug has one word for it: AWESOME. Find out all you need to know about W,T & T at www.bowers.org. Take a walk through Chinese history wending your way from the cruel Qin to the civilizing Han through the talented Tang dynasty. The audio tour is erudite but accessible; the artifacts, from the Xian terracotta warriors to the containers for the Buddha’s finger bone are fierce! Don’t miss this!

One last thing: Before Ocktoberfest ends, have a pretzel! Drink a beer! Eat a brat! missjunebug had the good fortune to enjoy homemade pretzels made by her inspired Mr.JB who just returned from Munich where he imbibed with the rest of the Ocktoberfesters!  So get your Pretzel On!

Pretzel Perfection! At Least Taste Wise! Thanks, Mr.JB! Photo by mjb2011

 

 

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Ciao Bella! Make missjunebug’s a Gelato!

missjunebug loves the Paciugo motto: Ante Lucrum Nomen: Reputation Before Profits.  Photo by mjb2011
missjunebug loves the Paciugo motto: Ante Lucrum Nomen: Reputation Before Profits. Photo by mjb2011

In her ongoing pursuit of living la dolce vita (and keeping her cruise groove going even on land!), missjunebug along with a few lovely friends made a wonderful discovery: Genuine gelato in her local community! Bellissimo!

missjunebug has Paciugo Gelato and Caffè at the outdoor wing of the Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks to thank for making her taste buds as happy as they were during her recent trip to Rome! This semi-healthy, mega-delicious concoction of whole milk, sugar, and natural fruits and flavorings is to use a couple of hackneyed phrases: to die for good. Oh. my. yes.

What were missjunebug’s trifecta of choices for her piccolo cup o’ bliss? Vanilla, of course–any ice cream or gelato worthy of its rock salt must have a pure and good vanilla, panna cotta (trans. wedding cake but even more tasty), and Texas Pecan Sea Salt Caramel, an outrageous blend of sweet and savory deliciousness. Well worth the under four buck price but believe missjunebug when she says she was prepared to pay whatever they asked!

This gelato is the real thing not because missjunebug says so but because this is the real thing. The Ginattas, Ugo, Cristiana, and Vincent hail from Northern Italy and brought the family’s secret (of course!) recipes with them to start their first gelato location in a city near and dear to missjunebug’s little bug heart, Big D little a double ll A S and that spells Dallas, her darlin’ darlin’ Dallas where the family and their franchisees have thrived! Sales must be amazing there now what with the 40+ days of 3-digit temperatures torturing the locals.

Although missjunebug has no such excuse for needing to eat this cool treat, she plans to make it part of her weekly regimen. It is a treat that bears a repeat!

If you are in the Conejo Valley, swing by the Oaks Mall 190 W. Hillcrest #65 805-497-4449 and scoop up a piccolo cuppa gelato. At roughly a 150 calories for a 3.5 oz serving you cannot go wrong!

Arrivederci, Häagen-Dazs!

Ciao bella, Paciugo!

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missjunebug’s Grilled Cheese Italian Style!

Golden Brown, Melty, and Delicious! Photo by mjb2011
Golden Brown, Melty, and Delicious! Photo by mjb2011

missjunebug has been doing her best to keep her cruise groove on. She clocks serious time in her courtyard fountain-side chaise lounge, she occasionally revisits her travel pictures in her iPhoto gallery, and she eats Italian whenever possible!

A few weeks ago she came across a delicious entree at the local hospital where she volunteers that screamed ITALIANO! One of the perks for volunteering is an after-volunteer-work free lunch in the hospital cafeteria that never disappoints. The provolone, tomato, and basil sandwich on chibatta bread was outstanding! The cafeteria culinary experience inspired missjunebug to replicate it at home. Here’s are the simple steps to a delicious variation on the traditional grilled cheese sandwich.

missjunebug’s Grilled Cheese Italiano

Ingredients

1 Kaiser roll (or Chibatta bread) cut in half

2 slices provolone cheese

4-6 tomato slices

Fresh basil leaves

Kosher Salt

Pepper

Directions

In a skillet melt a little butter and place the two halves of the roll cut side down. Press the halves down to bring to warm up the halves and bring to a golden brown.

Remove the halves and assemble the sandwich: place a slice of provolone on each half. Pile on the tomato slices on one half. Salt and pepper the tomatoes. Pile the basil on the other half and then carefully press the two halves together. Butter the top of the sandwich.

Place the sandwich back in the buttered skillet. Cover with a lid to get the provolone melting over low to medium heat. After a few minutes, remove the lid and flip the sandwich over to brown the other side and bring the provolone to melty perfection.

Buon appetito!

Simple Ingredients: Tomatoes! Provolone! Basil! Photo by mjb2011
Simple Ingredients: Tomatoes! Provolone! Basil! Photo by mjb2011
Assemble as shown! Photo by mjb2011
Assemble as shown! Photo by mjb2011
Grill covered for a little while to get the melt on! Photo by mjb2011
Grill covered for a little while to get the melt on! Photo by mjb2011
Plate up! Photo by mjb2011
Plate up! Photo by mjb2011
Up close and delicious! Photo by mjb2011
Up close and delicious! Photo by mjb2011

So put all those tomatoes to use you’ve been growing in your backyard garden! Have a little red, white, and green grilled cheese!

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Carbohydrates are the Devil!

Devil
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug watched a very interesting documentary last night on her fabulous instant view Netflix account. Fathead takes on the Super-Size Me documentary and pretty much dismantles its pseudo-science as well as its anecdotal portrayal of a guy who overconsumes McDonald’s intent on proving how heinous fast food franchises are. According to the Fathead documentary that’s just a bunch of bologna! Tom Naughton’s experiment of one month of fast food contributed to a lowering of his cholesterol (the bad LDL) and bringing his weight down by over 12 pounds. His doctor couldn’t believe it and yet, there it was. The throwback to a carb inhibited, high fat, high protein diet a la Atkins made for a slimmer, healthier Tom N.

missjunebug will leave it to you to decide which camp you’re in, but her take away lesson from Fathead and the entertaining nay-sayer Tom Naughton is that fast food isn’t the problem. Run amok carb consumption is.

As the universe would have it, a day after watching this funny but cogent documentary, missjunebug tuned into Dr. Oz today where Gary Taubes was taking apart limb by limb, or should missjunebug say carb by carb, Dr. Oz’s low fat, low calorie, complex carb-based diet that is the mantra of many these days. Taube’s book Good Calories, Bad Calories embraces the theory that insulin spikes from carb consumption grow fat cells and keep people from losing weight who are sensitive to carbs. The calories in/calories out just may not explain everything after all.

So what’s a junebug to do? This must she knows for sure, the sugar’s got to go and Dr. Gott probably had it right all along with his No Sugar, No Flour Diet. She plans to err on the side of less sugar rather than more and to save those delicious French baguettes for special occasions. Or at least she can try. Meh.

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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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A Christmas Miracle!

The junebugs had the best Christmas EVER! Food Fun: Racine Kringles, those magical circles of pastry dough, fruit filling, and lots and lots of icing were the best surprise! And the junebugs were enrolled in the Kringle of the Month Club, a club missjunebug has long aspired to join! Thanks, Ricks!!! Delicious truffles from New Hampshire! Thanks, Landys!!! What delicious fun!

Only to be topped by perhaps the most entertaining gifts for the kids ever, pictured here:

Surprise! It flies! Thanks, JBUnc &JBAunt! Photo by ElderJB
Surprise! It flies! Thanks, JBUnc &JBAunt! Photo by ElderJB

The Helizone Firebird Helicopter!!!  It did take a full morning of post unwrapping tinkering to get those pesky copters off the ground, but when they took flight, they were unstoppable and indestructible!!!! It was truly a Christmas Miracle!!!!

Forget the Canon60D Camera for Elder JB and the MacAir for TinyJB!  Those high tech toys didn’t hold a candle to the Helizone Firebird!

TinyJB shows the love for his new Christmas toy! Photo by ElderJB
TinyJB shows the love for his new Christmas toy! Photo by ElderJB
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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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A Delightful Wine Find!

What a concept! Photo by mjb2010
What a concept! Photo by mjb2010

missjunebug has her Mr.JB to thank for this one!

Friday night missjunebug had a social obligation which the junebugs were invited to. But after a long work week, Mr.JB decided to bow out gracefully. So that left him to fend for himself in the kitchen. He brought home food and drink uplifting to the palate and the spirit: Wine and a baguette! But not just any wine.

He brought home Monogamy Truly Madly Deeply Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. Before she left, she gave her Mr.JB a big hug for his selection. She liked the idea that a bottle of wine could promote a concept the junebugs believe in and rely upon every single day. missjunebug especially likes the Truly Madly Deeply part. She also liked the idea that of all the wines in the store, Mr.JB selected this one. Way to go, Mr.JB!

And the wine’s pretty good, too!

Up Close and Personal! Photo by mjb2010
Up Close and Personal! Photo by mjb2010

Is There Anything Better Than Saturday Breakfast Out?

Camarillo Airport, California 3 Sep 1994
Image via Wikipedia

The answer, of course, is No! At least that’s the way missjunebug feels! Mr.JB suggested breakfast out this a.m. and missjunebug could not say YES! fast enough. They had a luxurious morning savoring hot coffee, corned beef hash topped with two eggs sunny side up, a rancher’s omelette chock full of bacon, avocado, tomatoes, and two delicious cheeses, cheddar and Monterey jack and, yes, even some eggs thrown in to hold all those goodies together! And did she mention the breakfasts come with fresh fruit and the bread of your choice. Mr.JB opted for the English muffin; mjb, the wheat toast. Delightful with a capital D!

Now you are probably wondering where in the world to get such fine breakfast entrees. The answer is The Waypoint Cafe at the Camarillo Airport. Newly refurbished but looking a little too Starbuck’s-y has not diminished the fab menu! Part of the charm pre-remodel was the slightly down at the heels look to the restaurant that embodied the best of Old Camarillo, but all things change. missjunebug welcomes the new look and is thrilled the food is as good as ever. Find out for yourself the next time you are in Southern California, have a Saturday free, and crave a big breakfast served at a restaurant that’s also big on atmosphere. Just look out the windows and watch all those cool little planes take off! And there’s no charge for the entertainment! Does it get better than that? The answer, of course, is No!

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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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Lessons in Licorice

Mr.JB's Happy Licorice People Right Before...You Know! Photo by mjb2010
Mr.JB's Happy Licorice People Right Before...You Know! Photo by mjb2010

Mr.JB and missjunebug have been married a really, really long time and have no plans of walking the sad path recently taken by Al and Tipper and some other long marrieds-soon divorced that they know. Is it something in the water? missjunebug isn’t sure. What she is sure of is that over time she and her Mr.JB are becoming more and more alike which turns out not to be a bad thing since they started out many, many years ago as complete opposites. He’s science-y; she’s word-y. He’s a relentless perfectionistic; she’s lives by the 80%/20% rule: that is, 80% is plenty good enough in most things most of the time. He’s methodical, always; she’s haphazard, on a good day. He loves licorice like no other; she couldn’t stand the stuff.

Yes, that’s right. missjunebug once hated licorice with all her little bug heart. When she was an itty bitty bug, she could never have imagined digging into a bag of licorice All Sorts or Harry & David Tuxedos or multi-colored Licorice Snaps or black as night Scottie Dogs, not to mention eating pink and white Mike and Ike’s. The idea revolted her. Now missjunebug could fall back on her De gustibus non es disputandum motto here very easily, but the fact is that even though one cannot account for taste, missjunebug has learned that tastes do change over time. How does this happen? missjunebug has no idea. But there it is. missjunebug over the past couple of years has developed a deep and abiding love for licorice.

She suspects that it originally had to do with scarcity. She’d run out of everything fun and sweet to eat that she favored (Junior Mints, Kit Kat Bars, M&M’s Peanut, Reese’s Pieces, Cherry Sours–the list goes on and on) and resorted to trying “just one, please” piece of licorice that Mr.JB had methodically rationed to himself for an after dinner treat. It was not love at first bite. But it was sweet enough to be interesting and not nearly as revolting as missjunebug remembered from her childhood. This little scenario replayed itself enough times that missjunebug eventually acquired a taste for what was once the untasteable.

And really, really liked it. Maybe missjunebug was able to set aside her deep and abiding childhood loathing of licorice just long enough to give it a try and another try, and then another. Now she and Mr.JB delight in sharing the enjoyment of a sweet treat they both find tasty.

Things can change. Tastes can change. And yes, marriages break up, even 30 or 40 year ones. But sometimes marriages of opposites can celebrate all the ways in which a couple have come to reside happily in the  “if ever two were one, then surely we” category!

Now, Mr.JB, hand missjunebug that bag of Scottie Dogs, pronto!

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Tiny Tomato Happiness!

Tiny Tomato Turns on a Dime! Photo by mjb2010
Tiny Tomato Turns on a Dime! Photo by mjb2010

Last year around this time missjunebug was eulogizing her Tomato Sadness. Only half of her homegrown tomato looked good enough to eat. The underbelly was ulcerated and grim and looked like something she might find on the kitchen counter of TinyJB’s former abode (recently cited as a nuclear waste hazard).

But this year is different!

missjunebug has found Tiny Tomato Happiness growing cherry tomatoes! (Thanks for the tip, lovely r.h.!) The one pictured above is the runt of the litter, but it’s a perfectly round and healthy runt! mjb is looking forward to a full harvest of cherry tomatoes that are just the right size.

In the meantime, missjunebug plans to add this tiny tomato to her Collection of Tiny Things! That is, until she adds a little s&p and pops it into her mouth!

Happy gardening!

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Tierra Rejada Family Farms in Moorpark Rocks!

Wow! That's a Lot of Great Produce and a Delicious Sweet Treat for 21 tiny dollars!  Photo by mjb2010
Wow! That's a Lot of Great Produce and a Delicious Sweet Treat for 21 tiny dollars! Photo by mjb2010

missjunebug suggests you remember this website name: www.underwoodfamilyfarms.com. And this addy: 3370 Sunset Valley Road
off of Tierra Rejada Road in Moorpark, California. And this motto: Discover Underwood Family Farms “bringing you back to the farm.”

She took a leisurely stroll through the colorful farmer’s market area and came away with a treasure trove of delicious vegetables and fruits without paying a king’s ransom. In fact, missjunebug wants you to know that what you see pictured above set her back a mere 21 dollars. Now all she has to do is throw in a little protein and she’s got dinners for the rest of the week. And don’t overlook the little treat missjunebug picked up for herself included in that tiny price tag: Honees Honey Filled Drops Pure liquid honey inside every drop! Did missjunebug mention how delicious these little candy treats are? Believe it! Sweet and soothing and she says, “Just one more, please” as she unwraps another and pops it into her happy mouth!

Honees are just about as sweet as a trip to Tierra Rejada Family Farms in Moorpark. But not quite! Check out their website to find out more about the fun family doings at this rare way to spend your day in the era of blogging (mjb guilty as charged,) web surfing, twittering, facebooking, and general self-absorption via technology that knows no bounds (actually a pretty good thing!). Here’s a shortlist of the fun available down on the farm: Birthday Parties for wee ones, Pick-Your-Own Produce (check out their website for what’s currently in season), School Tours, Fun Rides, and, of course, the fab Farmer’s Market with Specialty Gifts & Products and Fruit & Vegetable Gift Baskets!!!  And the people working there are Super Friendly, too.

missjunebug wants to know What are you waiting for? Grab that cowboy hat (she knows you have one up in that hall closet somewhere) and head down to Tierra Rejada Family Farms in Moorpark. There’s one in Somis, too! Fun x 2 for mjb and you!

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Side Dish Extraordinaire! missjunebug’s Golden Beets and Brussel Sprouts!

Golden Beets Pre-Roasting! Beautiful! Photo by mjb2010
Golden Beets Pre-Roasting! Beautiful! Photo by mjb2010

missjunebug knows what you are thinking. Beets?? Puhleeze. Brussel sprouts? She has got to be kidding. But trust her. This is one of the tastiest vegetable side dishes you will ever eat. Alone beets can be a little hard to take. And those little green mini-cabbages can sometimes be a little bitter. But with a light hand, a little olive oil, a handful of sliced shallots, and toasted almonds: Voilà!! You have just created an extraordinarily tasty and colorful sidedish! missjunebug won’t even mention how healthy it is for you!

Try this little photo recipe on for size and flavor! You won’t be sorry!

missjunebug’s Golden Beets and Brussel Sprouts (adapted from an online recipe from missjunebug can’t remember where)

Ingredients

10 or so medium-sized golden beets

12 or so brussels sprouts

1 shallot, peeled and sliced

Olive oil

2-3 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Step 1

1. Roast the beets in the oven at 350°F for an hour or so. Roasting will allow the flavor of the beets to develop fully. After roasting, let them cool enough so that you can easily peel them. Then chop into 1 x 1/2 inch chunks.

Golden Beets Post Roasting! Delicious! Photo by mjb2010
Golden Beets Post Roasting! Delicious! Photo by mjb2010
After Roasting, Give Those Beets a Little Trim! Photo by mjb2010
After Roasting, Give Those Beets a Little Trim! Photo by mjb2010


2. Peel outer leaves of the brussel sprouts and trim stems. On the stem mark a little X with your knife to ensure even cooking. Parboil brussel sprouts in a small saucepan of boiling water for 3 minutes. Test for doneness by cutting one in half. They should be not quite done. They will finish cooking when they are added to the beets. Cut each sprout in half and set aside.

The Side Dish Extraordinaire Triumvirate: Golden Beets, Brussel Sprouts, Shallots! Photo by mjb2010
The Side Dish Extraordinaire Triumvirate: Golden Beets, Brussel Sprouts, Shallots! Photo by mjb2010

3. Slice the shallots then grab a good-sized skillet. Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat and add the shallot slices. Stir and cook until the shallots are translucent. Add one more tablespoon of the oil and turn up the heat a just a little.

4. Gently toast almond slices in a skillet on the stove top at medium heat. Stir frequently until lightly brown. Set aside to cool.

The Secret Ingredient! Sliced Almonds, Gently Toasted! Photo by mjb2010
The Secret Ingredient! Sliced Almonds, Gently Toasted! Photo by mjb2010

5. Add the brussel sprouts and beets to the skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another minute or two, then add those delicious almond slices for the finishing touch!

Ta Da! Golden Beets and Brussel Sprouts Ready to Serve! Photo by mjb2010
Ta Da! Golden Beets and Brussel Sprouts Ready to Serve! Photo by mjb2010

Serves 3-4.

missjunebug encourages you to say “Yes!!” to vegetables, even the strange ones like golden beets and brussel sprouts!

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KFC Coleslaw: missjunebug Style

Simple and Simply Delicious Coleslaw Ingredients! Photo by mjb2010
Simple and Simply Delicious Coleslaw Ingredients! Photo by mjb2010

When missjunebug gets a craving for fast food her top pick is KFC. But missjunebug does fast food with a difference. She skips the chicken and goes straight to the sides: green beans (oniony-good), mashed potatoes (reminiscent of her high school cafeteria m.p.! Go Cougars!), coleslaw (creamy and crispy simultaneously!) and a peach ice tea for her beverage. This is mjb’s idea of the perfect fast food lunch!

missjunebug makes her choices partly on taste and partly on principle. The KFC sides taste delicious and are very calorie conservative. But matters of taste are not everything.  Michael Pollan (Food Rules “eat food.” “mostly plants.” “not too much.”) and Mark Bittman (How to Cook Everything; How to Cook Everything Vegetarian; Food Matters) have been instrumental in reforming her eating habits into vegetarian by day, omnivore by night, where meat, chicken, and fish assume the role of mere condiments on her veggie and whole-grain filled dinner plate. Eating low on the food chain just feels better to missjunebug!

Does that mean she doesn’t enjoy the occasional In-N-Out Burger? Absolutely not! But she does go with a single with cheese instead of a double-double or a 4×4 animal style! There really is something to be said for moderation in all things, but believe her when she says it’s taken missjunebug a lifetime to learn that lesson!

So last night when missjunebug was preparing pulled pork sandwiches for Mr.JB and ElderJB, she decided to whip up some KFC-style coleslaw, too. The pulled pork was super easy to pull off because missjunebug just opened up the StoneRidge Ranch Pulled Pork in BBQ Sauce package, plopped it in a baking dish, and heated it up for 2o minutes at 350 in the oven. Could not be simpler or more delicious. Which brings missjunebug back to her Coleslaw Homage to KFC Recipe:

KFC Coleslaw: missjunebug Style

8 cups finely diced cabbage (about 1 head)

1/3 cup diced carrot

1/3 cup diced green bell pepper

3 tablespoons minced red onion

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions

Finely dice cabbage, carrots, and green bell pepper.

Place cabbage and carrot/bell pepper mixture into large bowl and add minced red onion.

Whisk together remaining ingredients to form a creamy dressing.

Pour over vegetable mixture and mix thoroughly.

Cover bowl and refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.

Makes a crap-ton and is the perfect accompaniment to Pulled Pork Sammiches in Q Sauce! Enjoy!

GiNormous Amounts of missjunebug's Coleslaw! Photo by mjb2010
GiNormous Amounts of missjunebug's Coleslaw! Photo by mjb2010
Up Close and Coleslaw-y! Photo by mjb2010
Up Close and Coleslaw-y! Photo by mjb2010
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Can Julie & Julia Get People Back into the Kitchen?

Cookbook-beef-stew
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug had a wonderful time at the movies today. She and a dear friend saw the new film Julie & Julia based on two true stories, one of the famous Le Cordon Bleu graduate who practically singlehandedly introduced America to French cooking and the other of a frustrated, cubicled admin drone who practically singlehandedly in 365 days cooked her way through all 524 recipes from Child’s genius work Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

missjunebug agrees with critics who say the film feels a little lopsided, owing to the weighty acting chops of Meryl Streep as Julia Child. She edges just up to caricature but pulls back a scintilla to create one of the most magnetic performances missjunebug has seen on screen in a really long time. Amy Adams is less captivating if not earnest, a Julie-lite. But missjunebug merely quibbles because she delighted in every frame of the film! Add to that how laugh out loud funny it is and how delicious the featured food looks and it’s a win-win for everyone in the audience.

Seats at missjunebug’s Roxy were populated by a nice mix of ages (30 and up, okay, way up) and they’d all turned out at 11:20 in the a.m. to see the film the very first chance they got! And believe missjunebug when she says the audience just ate it up! Even applauding as the credits rolled!

Now she wonders if this fine film will convince people that cooking at home is a more-than-worthwhile venture everyone should try. Project Runway encouraged young college aged-students to learn how to sew and even missjunebug dusted off her Singer Futura to sew again so inspired was she by the tattooed Jeffrey, the sophisticated Laura and the fierce Christian. mjb’s projects haven’t been particularly elaborate but they’ve been fun and satisfying!

Can the same thing happen to those couch potatoes who watch cooking shows ad infinitum (and ad nauseum?) but never bother to pull a pan out of the cabinet, head to their frig and pantry, and cook up some fresh, homemade food themselves? Or are American watchers in a permanent post-food preparation era? Michael Pollan thinks the (spaghetti) writing is (stuck) on the wall and they will never make their way back into the kitchen. Packaged foods have given way to fully cooked open-and-serve convenience foods. All the “preparer” needs is a fork and a napkin. What’s next? Can the Trekian food replicator be far behind?

missjunebug hopes Julie & Julia inspires America to rediscover its love of the home-cooked meal and to prepare a few favorites from time to time! Food is more than nourishment for the body: it is nourishment for the soul. If you don’t believe missjunebug, take a friend and see the soulful, romantic, and delicious Julie & Julia. J & J will convince you and make you really, really hungry, too! Bon appetit!

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Fruit, Fabulous Fruit!

missjunebug has been thinking about fruit lately. She picked up some awesome strawberries at the World’s Best Strawberry Fields (except for maybe John L.’s) Las Posas Berries in Ventura County. Check out how delicious they look:

Plump and Delicious and Sweet!  Photo by mjb2009
Plump and Delicious and Sweet! Photo by mjb2009

Here’s how to find them:

Can You Read the Label?  Photo by mjb2009
Can You Read the Label? Photo by mjb2009

If you are cruising through Southern California between the months of February and July, do yourself a favor and stop by Las Posas Berries. Nicest people! Best strawberries! Ever!

Speaking of fruit, here’s a little painting missjunebug did in her fab watercolor class this week. It almost looks good enough to eat, don’t you think? Not quite good enough to frame, though.  missjunebug is a watercolor neophyte, but her fab teacher Phyllis Doyon is very, very patient with her! Check out her website at www.phyllisdoyon.com!

Delicious Painted Pairs! Yum!  Photo by mjb2009
Delicious Painted Pairs! Yum! Photo by mjb2009

For the final all things fruit entry today, take a look as this very cool sign missjunebug spotted motoring through her little pastoral valley. It reminded Mr.JB of one a viewer might see on the HBO series No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency based on the books by Alexander McCall Smith. missjunebug agrees! She also recommends that you check out the books as well as the series. Both are as delightful as a big bowl of strawberries sprinkled with sugar on a hot June day. Believe it!

Sublime Fruity Art!  Photo by mjb2009
Sublime Fruity Art! Photo by mjb2009
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