Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fish Tacos and Coraline

When I saw the movie Coraline (Two-Disc Collector's Edition w/ 3D)
, based on Neil Gaiman's book, I was really impressed. It was really beautifully animated, yet creepy--kind of like the Nightmare Before Christmas. I loved the movie, so much that my husband bought me the DVD version and we watched at home in 3D. But I couldn't get enough of the story that I had my husband bring me a copy of the book from the library (this is one of the perks to being married to a librarian). The book was just as creepy and I absolutely loved it.


Coraline [Mass Market Paperback] is a twisted tale about a young girl who discovers an alternate reality where she meets a creature that looks just like her mother, except she has 2 black buttons for eyes and she calls herself her "other mother". In the new world world, Coraline is pleased to find that the "other mother" is eager to shower her with attention and delicious meals unlike her real parents, but she soon realizes that there is something disturbing about her and that the grass is not greener on the other side.

Gaiman does a great job with this story as it is well written. It may be marketed as a children's book, but it is a real treat for adults. But although this might appear to be a good bedtime story for children, keep in mind it is full of dark surprises that can probably cause nightmares.


But enought about this book, let's talk fish. My step father recently went fishing off Langara, an island south of Alaska. He caught and brought home a great deal of fish. I didn't believe my mother at first when she said it tasted like chicken, until she gave me a portion of halibut that I brought home and cooked for myself. It really did kind of taste like chicken. It was so fresh and delicious that it didn't taste like fish at all. My husband doesn't normally like fish but he really liked this one.

Originally I wanted to make macademia nut crusted halibut, but ended up settling for this recipe for fish tacos I found on Martha Stewart's publication, Whole Living Body+Soul. They were delicious.

Fish Tacos with Cabbage and Black Beans

1 tablespoon oil
12 six-inch white-corn tortillas
2/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 tablepoon hot pepper sauce
salt and pepper
1/4 cabbage, shredded
1 1/2 pounds halibut, cut into 3/4-inch strips
1 egg
1 cup panko
1 can (15 ounces) black beans
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Wrap tortillas in foil paper. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, and hot sauce; season with salt and pepper. Toss in cabbage. Set aside.

3. Beat an egg in a medium bowl. Place bread crumbs on a wide plate. Season fish with salt and pepper. Dip fish in eggs, then on bread crumbs being sure to coat well. Spread fish on an oiled baking sheet (I prefer to spray mine with pam) and drizzle with oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. After 10 minutes, add the wrapped tortillas in the oven to warm up.

4. While fish is baking, cook black beans in a medium sauce pan with cumin and chili powder, 5 minutes.

5. Remove fish and tortillas from oven. Arrange tortillas with cabbage, black beans, then fish.

Source: Adapted from Body + Soul Magazine recipe.

Nutella French Toast Bake

At work we threw a surprise baby shower for one of the girls in our department. It was a breakfast theme so I brought in a delicious Nutella French Toast Bake that I made the night before. Everyone thought it was very tasty so needless to say, it was a big hit! I can’t wait to make it again.

We also made a really beautiful diaper cake that fooled people into thinking it was a real cake! It was so much fun to make and so incredibly easy. Normally a diaper cake costs $100 if your were to buy it, but it is so much cheaper just to make your own and it is so easy to make. I have included the instructional you tube video that we followed to make it.


Nutella French Toast Bake

12 slices day-old white bread
½ cup Nutella hazelnut spread
5 large eggs
¾ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon hazelnut extract

1. To make day-old bread, spread slices of bread on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 200 degrees F for 15 minutes.

2. Spread Nutella hazelnut spread on 6 slices of stale bread. Put Nutella slices together with the remaining of slices of bread together forming 6 sandwiches. Arrange slices in a single layer in a oiled 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, salt, hazelnut extract, and melted butter. Pour mixture over sandwiches evenly and turn to coat. Cover and chill in refrigerator overnight. Before baking, bring sandwiches to room temperature.

4. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Source: Inspired by The Big Book of Breakfast: Serious Comfort Food for Any Time of the Day.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Coconut-Avocado Ice Cream


My aunt recently bought a cute little condo in Green Valley and to celebrate, she and my cousin invited us over for dinner. They were very excited to show off their new place. For dessert, I decided to bring Coconut-Avocado Ice Cream. I knew well that this ice cream was very delicious, but I was hesistant to tell anyone that it had avocado. I wanted them to taste it first. When my aunt served it to everyone after our meal, everyone was eager to eat it without even bothering to ask what flavor it was. I was glad to see that they all enjoyed it. My aunt said that she didn't care that it had avocado--it was very tasty!

This ice cream is very rich with a pleasant aroma of coconut. The avocado really gives it a creamy texture. It does not have much of a presence in the ice cream in terms of taste, but it helps give it a lovely green color.

Coconut-Avocado Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 can coconut cream
1/2 cup white sugar
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
3/4 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

1. Puree all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a bowl and chill for 2 hours.

2. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Source: Coconut-Avocado Ice Cream.

Doggy Paddle and Play Day

Today I took Muppet to Doggy Paddle Day at the Multigenerational center near our house. It was soooo much fun! The weather was beatuiful, the dogs were happy, and the air was filled with cheery music by the Beach Boys. There was even a furry friend fortune teller there! He told Muppet, "Something you lost will soon turn up...keep digging!"

Muppet was really excited to see other dogs at the event and he wasted no time in smelling them. Except the dogs that were deep in the water because there was no way he was going in to there to mess up his mohawk. I needed to help him cool down, which I accomplished by pretty much having to drag him into the shallow to at least get his feet wet. Sure he's a poodle and poodle's were bred to be water retrievers...but this little dog was not having any of that. He had to look good for the Owner/Pet Look-A-Like Contest...which we won 1st place!

I hope you enjoyed the pictures as they probably tell a better story than I can write. So I'll leave you with that and this Peanut Butter Bones treat recipe that came with our goodie bag.

Peanut Butter Bones

1 package dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 cup milk
1/4 cup molasses 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose white flour

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water.

2. In a large saucepan, mix together the potatoes, milk molasses, chicken stock and peanu butter. Heat, stirring frequently until boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

3. Add dissolved yeat to potatoe mixture. Gradually blend in the egg, wheat, rye, and rice flours. Add enough flour for a stiff dough.

4. Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball and roll until 1/2 inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut into biscuits. Place on ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4 inch apart.

5. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool overnight.

Source: Unknown.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Visiting A Jewel of A Town


This past weekend I went to visit a close friend of mine in Aguanga, CA, a town East of Temecula. She took me to a few little towns where we indulged ourselves in farmer's markets and antique stores. My favorite visit, however, was in a jewel of a town called Julian. Julian is a old Gold Rush town just 1 hour from San Diego. Julian is known for its apple pies and for their romantic bed and breakfasts'.

In the pictures I took, I was able to capture my friends vegetable garden and her very large family. I say large because she is the proud mother to a handsome little boy, a young little goat, 3 happy go lucky dogs, a turtle, 2 clingy cats, and a handful of chickens. I know that I can always find inspiration whenever I visit her and this time was no different. She never ceases to amaze me with her love for nature and all living creatures.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beautiful Peaches and Twilight


As a librarian, my husband is always bringing home books on cd. We generally like to load them on our I Pod. Reading is just so passé. Just kidding! No but really, listening to books on CD can be really helpful on productivity. All you do is put on your ear phones and just let your mind wander to a far off place while you leave your body on auto pilot. It really helps numb the pain of doing something totally mundane.

One of the books I have enjoyed tremendously on audio was the Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1) series. I did not know what to expect at first, but boy, I was in for a treat! Being able to listen to the story and voices of each character on audio, rather than reading it, made the story seem so vivid and real. I don’t normally like these kinds of teeny bopper stories but with this one…I was totally hooked!


The story at first starts off a little slow and it appears to be bland. However, as the story progresses, you find that you are beginning to feel the same love sick emotions as Bella. When I put the book down, I felt like I was in love, but to no one specifically. It was the book that conjured these emotions. Then in book two New Moon(The Twilight Saga, Book 2)
), Stephanie Meyers takes you on a love roller coaster. During that read, I found myself moping around the house, depressed. Finally, book three Eclipse (The Twilight Saga)
and four Breaking Dawn (The Twilight Saga, Book 4)
goes off into an adventure (Sci Fi adventure to be quite honest). Everyone else I have spoken with swears that book four was their favorite, but I lost interest. I didn’t even bother to read the end. Nevertheless, book one and two I felt were very powerful. I’ll admit that the writing isn’t that great, but let’s be honest here, the book was meant for a young audience. And even with that, the author is able to provide the reader to experience strong feelings and that makes it a good read.

So, in case you haven’t read Twilight yet, I strongly suggest that you check out the “Hortts Bookstore”, which will allow you to buy it on Or just check it out at your local library. And be sure to check my “Books I am Reading” icon on the right hand side of this blog for new reads.

Grilled Peaches with Caramelized Sugar

4 peaches cut in half and pit removed
6 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 tablespoon ground cardamom

1. Turn grill on medium to high heat. On a flat plate, toss sugar and cardamom. Press each peach down into the sugar, flesh side down, until well coated. Grill for 7 minutes or until sugar is caramelized.

Source: Sunday Suppers.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Easy Breezy Banana Bread

I love this recipe for Banana Bread! It is so easy and quick to make, yet foolproof. You don't even need eggs or shortening so I would venture to say it is a pretty healthy treat. A co-worker of mine brought me a huge box of ripe bananas so I thought it was a great opportunity to have fun with this recipe. I made several batches using white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and coffee flavored chocolate chips. I also added hazelnut extract or chocolate extract to one batch and vanilla extract to another. Every combination was very delish!

Banana Bread

3 very ripe bananas
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup white or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts – pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, hazelnut extract, or chocolate extract

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Mash bananas in a bowl with a fork. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix sugar and butter. Add mashed bananas, flour, and baking soda. Mix until just combined and moist. Do not over mix. Fold in chocolate and nuts.

3. Pour into a greased 9" x 5" loaf pan for 45 minutes or until done. If using a smaller loaf pan, adjust baking time. For muffins, bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until done.

Source: Adapted from Divine Domesticity, originally from Every Kitchen Tells Its Stories.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Black Bean Burger

The first time I ever had a black bean burger was at the Pita Jungle in Tempe, AZ. They are know for serving healthy vegetarian meals and the black bean burger was one of their most popular dishes. It was SO delicious and I almost couldn't tell that there was no meat in it. Since my last bite, I have been trying to re-create it ever since.

Finally after a few years of trying to perfect my creation of the black bean burger, I finally found a great recipe. It has the right amount of spices and it is very filling, yet healthy. You can either grill the patty (which I liked better) or you can bake it in the oven at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Also, if you add a roasted sweet bell pepper on top of the cooked patty, it really makes the flavor pop!

Black Bean Burger

1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 eggs
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1-2 cups bread crumbs

1. Pre-heat grill for high heat. Lightly oil grates. In a food processor, finely chop onion and garlic.

2. In a medium sized bowl, mash beans. Stir in cumin, chili powder, and hot sauce. When well combined, add in onion mixture. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, beat eggs. Pour eggs into bean mixture and gradually mix in bread crumbs until mixture is sticky and holds its shape. Divide into patties.

4. Place patties in a sheet of aluminum foil and grill for 8 minutes on each side.

Source: Adapted from LAURENMU