Posted by missjunebug on December 19, 2012
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)
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
Posted by missjunebug on April 13, 2012
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!
Posted by missjunebug on December 17, 2011
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.”
Posted by missjunebug on August 10, 2011
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!
Ciao bella, Paciugo!
Posted by missjunebug on August 8, 2011
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
1 Kaiser roll (or Chibatta bread) cut in half
2 slices provolone cheese
4-6 tomato slices
Fresh basil leaves
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.
Simple Ingredients: Tomatoes! Provolone! Basil! Photo by mjb2011
Assemble as shown! Photo by mjb2011
Grill covered for a little while to get the melt on! Photo by mjb2011
Plate up! 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!
Posted by missjunebug on July 27, 2011
Image via Wikipedia
missjunebug is very fond of cauliflower; her family less so. So she decided to give her shiny new head of cauliflower an ambush makeover to bring the love to the lowly veggie. That little flowereted head never knew what hit it! And what hit it was her shiny new immersion blender, missjunebug’s current fav kitchen gadget.
Here’s her magical and transformative recipe adapted from a FoodTV recipe.
missjunebug’s “Mashed Potatoes” Cauliflower
1 head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon softened cream cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Cut up the cauliflower into small pieces, discarding the stem and outer leaves. Place in salted boiling water for 7-8 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. While still warm, use an immersion blender to puree the cauliflower. Add the softened cream cheese, the parmesan cheese, and the butter. Finish off with salt and pepper and blend until the cauliflower begins to magically transform into “mashed potatoes.” Really, it will! And missjunebug guarantees it tastes Dee Licious!
You will never look at cauliflower with disdain again! If you crave an even healthier version of this recipe, missjunebug suggests you might cut back on the butter, but she herself will not go there. Life is short. Butter is good.
Either way, enjoy!
Posted by missjunebug on May 18, 2011
Image via Wikipedia
missjunebug has the good fortune to be cruising soon on a fine ship in a finer place: The Regent Seven Seas Mariner in the azure blue waters of the Mediterranean.
missjunebug and her Mr.JB have a hat trick of things to celebrate: 30th anniversary a few months back, turning 60 a few months from now, and a year out from cancer treatment with fingers tightly crossed! Woo double hoo!
In a preemptive strike against the inevitable onboard calorie-o-rama with fab food and bev available 24-hours a day, missjunebug and her Mr.JB have adopted and adapted a new eating plan based on the now famous Dr. Pat’s V-8 Juice diet outlined in Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas & Found Happiness by Dominique Browning. Chapter 16 alone entitled “The Diet” is worth the price of the book because this simple and super restrictive eating plan works! In a nutshell: a hard-boiled egg for breakfast, a little V-8 juice for snack, a couple of hours later, a little container of fat-free cottage cheese, a little apple, a little cinnamon; a few hours after that, a little tuna or a little chicken, some greens and lots of water! By now it’s about 3:30 or so, so pull the tab on another little can of V-8! In a couple of hours, repeat the cottage cheese course, then it’s dinnertime with 4 oz. of protein, a cup of green veggies (broccoli, zuchs, summer squash, greenie beanies, or cucs.) Before bedtime, pop a little turkey and drink a little water! If you find yourself semi-famished between the two-hour intervals, have some–wait for it, wait for it–V-8 juice!!! (Please note the operative words in this diet description are “little” and “V-8″).
Ms. Browning had the good fortune to lose 15 pounds of her muffin weight (you’ve got to read the book) in a mere month. missjunebug will settle for five! So far, so good. She’s 3 pounds down and still has a couple of weeks to go before she cruises the high seas and the vast buffets!
Posted by missjunebug on March 18, 2011
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!)
1 cup Half and Half
1 cup whipping cream
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
Posted by missjunebug on January 10, 2011
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 toÂ 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.”
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
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!
Wisk the eggs in a big bowl. Â 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!
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! Â What could be easier? Well, eating it, missjunebug guesses!
Lots of French Toast Ready for the Freezer! Photo by mjb2011
Posted by missjunebug on October 21, 2010
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:
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
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