Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blackberry Oat Bars

This time of year, every Wednesday, our family packs up a picnic and heads down the beach for Nite Moves. It's a biathlon (swim and 5K run) that starts in late April and goes through September. Don't ask me how long the swim portion is because . . . THAT WATER IS TOO COLD FOR ME TO FIND OUT! : ) There is also a kid's 1 mile run that Sophia enjoys. She is super fast too! Seriously!

Anyway . . . I thought I would make these Blackberry Oat Bars to share with our friends.
Adapted from the cookbook Weeknights with Giada

Vegetable oil spray
1 (11 ounce) jar blackberry preserves (use whatever preserves you have on hand)
1 3/4 cups graham crackers, finely ground
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 extra large egg, beaten, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 9x13x2 baking dish with vegetable oil. Line bottom and sides with parchment paper and and spray again.

Whisk together ground graham crackers, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Stir in oats. Add butter, egg, and vanilla and stir until incorporated.

Lightly press half of the mixture onto the bottom of the pan. Using an offset spatula, spread preserves over the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Cover the preserves with remaining crust mixture and gently press to flatten.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until light and golden. Cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Cut into bars.

Next time I think I will do 1/2 cup ground graham crackers and 1/2 cup wheat germ. And maybe cut the butter by 1/2 a stick. We'll see!

Dessert, breakfast, snack? You choose!
(Miss K added Chip into the pic)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Madeline Lost in Central Park

Sophia had her ballet recital last Saturday, Madeline Lost in Central Park. This is her second year in ballet and her 4th recital and by far her best performance yet! I am so proud of my little Balloon Seller!

Here's a little clip:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Harvest Grain Salad

Although I haven't posted a recipe in a long time, you can still find me in the kitchen : ) I've just been a little busy and the meals have been kind of routine, but still yummy . . . I think ; )

Anyway, Darling Hubby told me about this blend of grains at Trader Joe's:
It's super pretty with the different colors. 

1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cups Harvest Grains
Olive Oil
1/2 Hot House Cucumber, diced
1 Fuji Apple, unpeeled and diced
1/2 small red onion, diced

No real measurements. Just taste as you go : )
Olive oil,
Red Wine Vinegar
Agave Nectar
salt & pepper

Bring chicken stock to a boil, add olive oil and grains. Let simmer with lid on for 10 minutes.
Fluff with fork and add cucumber, apple, and onion.
Mix oil, vinegar, and agave nectar. Season with salt & pepper.
Pour over salad while warm.
Serve at room temperature.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Food Lover's Heaven

I just have to share a few food photos from our trip
I love our Farmer's Market in Santa Barbara. But if you ever get the chance to peruse through an outdoor market in Europe, especially France and Holland, it will take your love for farm (seafood, produce, dairy) freshness to another level. 

And can I just say that European hotel breakfasts are the best! They offer everything from fresh greens, eggs, yogurt, pastries, about 10 different type of fresh baked bread, fresh squeezed juices, and be still my heart - Veuve!
Even the packaging is so detailed - as you can see in the above picture of the little jams and fresh granola. I use "fresh" a lot in this post, don't I? Ever try kiwi juice? That's the green pitcher.

I wish I would have had the opportunity to buy a few things at the local outdoor markets and whip up a scrumptious dish. But on the flip side, I did enjoy many meals prepared for me with all the lovely local ingredients. And I didn't have to do the dishes ; ) My favorite meals were in the quaint cafes with that Mamma's Kitchen charm. You know the ones that permeate of a home cooked meal?
Everything was delicious! From charcuteries to fish n' chips
to the best couscous and salads
to the many divine pastries.

Oh and the seafood!

Every restaurant should display their catch. Don't you agree?
Langoustines = My dinner

Then there's the beer. I'm not a big beer drinker, but when in Rome . . . or I guess Holland/Sweden:
I gotta find that Leifmans!

Chocolate and cheese . . .
Really, what could be better?

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Priceless Jewel to Treasure

I was so sad to miss Sophia's school Mother's Day luncheon. I would have done anything to get back from Europe in time for the celebration. But I was thrilled to be home on actual Mother's Day to receive this beautiful handmade necklace from Sophia:

Sophia, I will treasure this necklace forever. And I hope one day I will be able to share it with your children.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Holland and Sweden

Hello! I know it's been awhile since I've posted, but I've been a little busy. David and I just got back from a wonderful European adventure. I can't possibly post all the photos, so I will try to condense our 10 day excursion as best as I can.

First stop . . . Amsterdam, Holland
Surprise, surprise that my first photo post would be of food ; )
This seafood APPETIZER was the best!
I just love the old world charm of Europe. Everything from transportation to
the architecture. Nothing modern but yet so advanced in culture.

The best traveling companions ever, The Bienstocks.

The world of clogs:

A little beer in the Red Light District.
(Definitely an eye opener)

The best way to get around town:

See the clover in the foam?

One of my favorite photos of the trip:

On of the days we rented bikes and asked our concierges about areas surrounding Amsterdam.
We thought it would be nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
We wanted to see the countryside.
So he told us about:
And let's just say, the next day when we told him we actually went to Marken, 
I think we shocked the heck out of him. 
Hmmmm, could it be because it was a 40 mile round trip bike ride?! 
And I must add that 20 of those miles were against wind!

After spending a whole day attached to a bike seat, literally, it was a nice pace to take a little train ride to see the tulips in Keukenhof. Absolutely the most gorgeous tulips I have ever seen in my whole entire life! And the variety of species was incredible. I wish I could have brought home a few bulbs.

And now the journey turns to Gothenburg, Sweden. This part of the trip was much more mellow. It was super cold, windy and sometimes rainy. My picture taking definitely slowed down in this country due to the gloomy weather. The guys attended a conference for a few hours in the morning. And us gals kept preoccupied with workouts, breakfast, massages, reading, and just relaxing. Exactly what I needed because I think my body was still in shock from that 40 mile bike ride! : )
The art work in our ultra modern hotel. Way different from Amsterdam.
It's an old post office car that has been flattened.
So green it looks fake, doesn't it?
A little stair master ; )
On one of the nearby islands off of Gothenburg.
The one sunny day and it was beautiful!
Cheers to a fabulous vacation!
Thank you Jenny & Marc for making this trip a memorable one.
Can't wait to travel with you guys again!!

*Disclaimer (I know Jenny would appreciate this too)* Just in case you were wondering why the attire in the photos seem to repeat - I swear we brought a lot of different clothes on this trip. But it was so cold (50 F) all we wanted was our jeans and jackets. Let's face it, warm and cozy sometimes beats out fashion. Gasp!