Recipe: Bunny Bait Popcorn

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This sweet and salty holiday treat can be adapted for other special occasions by using different M&Ms — Reindeer Bait Leprechaun Bait — you get the idea.

 

Bunny Bait Popcorn
Author: Suzanne Moshenko
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
This sweet and salty holiday treat can be adapted for other special occasions by using different M&Ms — Reindeer Bait Leprechaun Bait — you get the idea.
Ingredients
  • 2 bag microwave popcorn
  • 16 oz plain white chocolate melts (One package of CandiQuik)
  • 2 cups pretzels rods broken into pieces
  • 1 package Easter-colored M&Ms
  • 1/4 cup confetti colored sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Pop the popcorn in the microwave. Pour into a bowl. Heat chocolate per directions. We use the kind with the microwave tray. Pour over popcorn and coat. Quickly add pretzels and M&Ms and mix it all together. Now stir in the sprinkles.

 




Recipe: Safe Catch Tuna and Macaroni Salad

Tuna and macaroni

Tuna and Macaroni salads take me back. My mom used to make it for special occasions — non holiday edition. Like for picnics in the park, birthday sleepovers or long summer weekends.

I stopped making the dish years ago when I began to have canned tuna concerns. I couldn’t bear the thought of one of my childhood favorites causing harm to dolphins or containing high mercury levels.

When I was asked by Safe Catch tuna to try their brand I had the idea to give this recipe another try. It turned out just how I remembered it! The only change I made to my mom’s recipe is I nixed the peas. My mom’s had peas, and as you might know from my ABOUT ME PAGE, I’d rather eat a bowl of bees than a bowl of peas.

The tastebud clincher in this recipe adding chopped bread and butter pickles. Most of you (I see you) would go with relish. Which would be just fine, if you want a just fine Tuna and Macaroni Salad, but if you are inclined to always do one better, go with the chopped up pickles. Also, a little note about the hard boiled eggs I add. I am a convert to baking my eggs to hard boil. If you haven’t tried this method I will go on record to say: It’s a game changer. Six eggs nicely placed in a muffin tin, baked at 350 for 30 minutes, then dunked in ice water, telling you, try it!

Here are a few facts about Safe Catch tuna and then let’s get right into the recipe. It has the lowest level of mercury of any brand. Sorry, Charlie. It also is “responsibly caught,” which means it’s sustainable and traceable from caption to consumer. (which reminds me I need to watch this week’s Deadliest Catch!) Most importantly to me, it’s dolphin safe. Want more info, head on over to their website, here.

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Recipe: Safe Catch pure Tuna and Macaroni Salad
Recipe Type: Salad
Author: Suzanne Moshenko
Made with Safe Catch tuna
Ingredients
  • One box (16 oz.) cooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 cups diced bread and butter pickle chips
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 3 cans Safe Catch tuna, drained
  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons pickle juice from the jar
  • 5 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl add mayonnaise, pickle juice,vinegar, salt and pepper. Whip it all together the add the rinsed macaroni, mix.
  2. Add Safe Catch tuna, pickles, celery to the bowl and mix thoroughly.
  3. Crumble the hard boiled eggs into the mixture and stir.
  4. Place in the refrigerator until cooled.
  5. Enjoy!

 




Tamarind of London in Newport Beach offers unique cuisine

 

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Inside Tamarind of London

 

Bar/patio side of Tamarind London

Bar/patio side of Tamarind London

I knew next to nothing about Indian food when I sat down with the general manager for a chef’s dinner at Tamarind. Though the restaurant ownership has been in business for over twenty years, this Newport location has only been here for a few. I learned about the history of the ownership, they are an Indian family who opened their first restaurant in London and has now expanded to NPB and New York.

I liked the idea of eating Indian food but felt intimidated by the unfamiliar ingredients of the food. Tamarind’s management knew most Orange Countians would feel this way so they have their menu laid out in an easy-to-read fashion with both the traditional Indian name of the dish and then a California dumbed-down explanation. Which is much appreciated.

Tim and I sat down to a meal and with every course we received a full explanation of the origin of the dish and the ingredients/preparation method. Though this was arranged as a press tasting, the waiters at Tamarind are very knowledgeable and assured me that anyone coming to the restaurant can get on-the-spot training in Indian food.

The meal was delicious. Fresh ingredients — the sea bass was A.Mazing — and the way most Indian food is prepared, in a Tandoori oven, makes it a pretty healthy choice. Tim liked the Curry Prawns (pictured) the best. He would come back just to have it again. The Goat Cheese Naan was fantastic! Great for soaking up all the tantalizing sauces.

The atmosphere at Tamarind is lovely. Seating in the bar area is plentiful and the ocean breeze, open fire pits and pretty fountain makes it romantic/relaxing. They have a few large round tables where you can sit with a group.

I would recommend the Chilean Sea Bass dish and also the “Indian Lamb Pot Pie” called Dumpukht and also any of the Tandoori starters, particularly the swordfish. The chef made us a sampler plate (pictured) and I suggested they add it to the menu. Let’s see if they do! It’s a great way to experience the different tastes of Tandoori.
The desserts are tasty, too. I tried them all!

Tamarind

Chicken Tikka Marsala

 

 

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Dessert sampler

 

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Kitchen at Tamarind

 

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Preparing the Dumpukht// lamb rice casserole table side

 

 




Friday five: Best thing I ever ate (OC Edition)


1.) Eggplant Parmesan at the Andrea Restaurant at Pelican Hill: This dish is unique, fresh and, not that this really counts, but downright adorable. Served in its own cast iron skillet, you’ll find yourself scrapping the sides to get ever bit of caramelized cheese and I would not judge you for that. Probably one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, like EVER. The Andrea, unsure on price.


2.) Togarashi Edamame Beans at The Lazy Dog Cafe. I never thought I’d have such strong feelings about a bean, but these aren’t just any beans. Chef Gabe has coated them with chili flakes, loads of ginger and garlic and then the deal-sealer, orange peels. I honestly can say this dish one of my all-time favorites. All that plus it’s fun to say: Togarashi Edamame! Try it. Lazy Dog Cafe, $4.50

 

3.) Roast Beef Sandwich at “A” Market. You might miss A Market if you’re speeding down PCH, it’s at that corner, the one where you turn from PCH to Newport Ave, right next to A Restaurant. You have to stop in to the quaint and sophisticated market and try their Roast Beef Sandwich. Everything meticulously placed between the Ciabata is fresh and tasty. The horseradish Havarti cheese is spicy, the watercress is cripy, the tomato is cold and juice and the roast beef is just heartbreakingly peppery and tender. It’s a “I don’t even like roast beef, but I love this sandwich” kind of roast beef sandwich. A Market, $8.25

 


4.) Blacked Chicken Taco at Taco Mesa. One of my favorite places to eat in OC is Taco Mesa. With four funky, friendly eateries around the county you’ve probably tried it at least once. Sometime I wake up craving their blackened chicken tacos and have to track one down. “Healthy Authentic” is their motto and this little number exemplifies it.  It’s a mystery what their blend of cheeses is or how they make their white cream sauce, but couple them up with the cabbage relish and you’re set for the best taco ever. Taco Mesa, $3.

 

5.) Crispy Tofu Salad at Tangaroa Terrace at The Disneyland Hotel. If you’re looking for a healthy meal while visiting Disneyland Resort, look no further than Tangaroa Terrace at the Disneyland Hotel. Chef Toby Hollis has put together a creative, eclectic menu of “fast casual” delights and my favorite is The Crispy Tofu Salad.  The moment I tasted the creamy goodness of those little tofu balls plopped on top of a mixed with the crunchy veggies, I was hooked.  Sit out on the patio and enjoy the salad or you can bring it over to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar and order a cocktail to sip with your salad. Tangaroa Terrace, Crispy Tofu Salad, $8.49

Other Friday Fives from moi.

Five Notes from a Hopelessly Unskilled Housewife

Five Men Who Have My Permission to Wear Tank Tops (Others are not allowed)

My Top Five Romantic Comedies




Lemon Strawberry Puppy Chow made with essential oil (Gluten free!)

 

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Puppy chow is one of our family’s favorite special treats. It’s great for camping or large parties. It’s also gluten free! I have been playing around with different recipes, adding and taking out ingredients. This one contains no peanut butter, the staple in a traditional puppy chow. I added Trader Joe’s freeze dried strawberries to make it a bit more healthy. I also incorporated essential oils. Cooking and baking with them has been an adventure. A very yummy adventure!

I made this Lemon Strawberry Puppy Chow for OC Family magazine’s Art Director Monica Garrett’s baby shower. It turned out … if I do say so … delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 8 c. Rice Chex cereal
  • 1 c. white chocolate chips
  • 4 drops lemon essential oil
  • ¼ c. butter
  • 1½ c. powdered sugar
  • 2 c. Trader Joe’s Freeze Dried Strawberries
 Melt white chocolate and butter in a microwave-save bowl using 30 second intervals (about 2 minutes total) until smooth. White chocolate  doesn’t tend to get as smooth as dark chocolate, but it should be creamy.

Add 4 drops of lemon essential oil. (DoTerra.com) If you don’t have essential oil you can use 4 drops lemon extract.

Pour Rice Chex into a large bowl. Then fold in white chocolate mixture.

Add powdered sugar to a large Ziplock baggie.

Add the Rice Chex, zip up bag and mix it all together until the powder sugar coats the Chex.

Pour onto large, parchment paper lined cookie sheet to cool.

I like to keep my puppy chow in the fridge until we’re ready to enjoy it, but it doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

Add strawberries when ready to serve.

Enjoy!




Happy New Year! The post that was mostly about bread …

It’s a challenge to find nice New Year’s decor for the home. I loved this handmade “Happy New Year” banner I bought from the ETSY store Paramore Art Studios. Please take time to visit her shop. She sells Valentine’s, Easter, Christmas and custom banners. She is wonderful and the prices are right! ($25).

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We changed it up this year for New Year’s Eve. I wanted to host at my house to give the kids more time together. For the last 10 years we have eaten dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack in Newport Beach and then all shuffled off to our own homes, but this year called for something new!

We rang in the New Year with a silly hat party! The *ahem* kids loved the idea and really got into it!

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I served this fantastic adaptation of Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Lasagna recipe by Kayotic Kitchen. It takes some time, but well worth the extra work. It is delicious and served all 15 people at the party! Kayotic Kitchen provides a step-by-step pictorial guide to this recipe which is much appreciated.

Lasangna

I also served Martha Stewart’s Lemon Drop Champagne Punch. I doubled the recipe — in order to serve all the adults — and tripled the vodka (Oh, yeah!) to make it more flavorful.

At the last minute I realized I didn’t have any bread to serve with the pasta and salad. My mom came to my rescue and improvised these delicious Garlic Oregano Biscuits.

Garlicoregano

Here’s how she made it.

Garlic Oregano Biscuits

Ingredients

One roll of Pillsbury Grands Biscuits

One stick salted butter

Handful of fresh oregano (Perfect if you’re already buying some for the lasagna)

One clove garlic

1/2 Tsp. garlic powder

Directions

Completely melt butter in microwave. Take the stems off the oregano. Add pressed garlic, garlic powder and oregano to the melted butter. Open the biscuits and separate. Cut each biscuit in half and dip it into the butter (fully coating). Cheat a little by making sure a little oregano is on each piece. Set the pieces beside each other in an ungreased 8 x 8 ceramic or glass dish. Pop in a preheated 350 degree oven for 14 – 17 minutes.

Enjoy!

My mom nailed this … and, naturally, she looked great in her silly hat!

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Copy Cat Thrifty Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (made with essential oil)

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My guy loves the old-fashioned taste of Thrifty’s Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. I like making my own ice cream and have been frustratingly unsuccessfully at copying the recipe. The ice cream was coming out pretty well, but the texture of the chocolate chips was the tricky part. I tried shaving and pounding chips from blocks of chocolate but nothing seemed right.

The method I outline below matches Thrifty’s the very best. It takes a little extra time but is well worth it! I also use essential oils instead of peppermint extract. It was  more flavorful and I like to cook using doTERRA products whenever I can.

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 drops Do TERRA peppermint essential oil

2 drops green food coloring (optional)

2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1.) In a large bowl, stir together the milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and peppermint essential oil until everything has dissolved. Color to your liking with the green food coloring. Pour into ice cream machine.

2.) Place the chocolate chips into a clear Ziplock bag and heat in microwave for 10 seconds (or until softened). Pound chocolate chips flat in the bag until they make a wafer-thin sheet. Place in the freezer.

3.) Fifteen minutes into the freezing, take the chocolate chips out the freezer and pound the sheet through the plastic with the back of a one cup measuring cup. Keep pounding until you’ve smashed the chocolate into tiny shards.

4.) Add the chocolate chips into almonst finished freezing ice cream.

5.) After the ice cream is finished spoon into a container, and freeze for 2 hours or until it is the thickness you like.

6.) Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips for added love and hugs.




Cranberry Pineapple Salad

Salad

 

This is one of my favorite holiday recipes. My friend Robin served it at Christmas over 20 years ago and I’ve made it every year since. It’s super simple and delicious.

 

Cranberry Pineapple Jello Salad

2 Cups raw cranberries

1 1/2 Cups water

2/3 Cups sugar

1 Small package any red jello

1/2 Cup crushed pineapples

1/2 Cup pecans 

Directions

In a medium saucepan add water and cranberries. Bring to simmer for ten minutes. Add sugar and jello (reminder it needs to be a small package of red jello). Let partly cool. Add mostly drained pineapples and the pecans. Pour into a pretty dish. Refriderate for 3 – 4 hours.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 




My Interview with Le Pain Quotidien’s Founder, Alain Coumont

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When Le Pain Quotidien opened its doors at Fashion Island I met with organic bread maker and founder Alain Coumont while he was in California for a brief visit. We sat at one end of his signature communal table and talked about his simple beginnings as a young chef in Belgium, the differences between European and American philosophy of food and why he doesn’t serve Diet Coke — among other things.

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Alain was clearly tired from his long flight. He seemed dead serious and initially wasn’t up for silliness so early in the morning. We ordered our bowl of coffee; I pulled out my iPhone and we began to talk about how he turned his little Belgium bakery into a successful world-wide enterprise.

Me: Has brining your bakery to US been different than you expected?

Alain: I didn’t want to become like those French bakeries that start off authentic but after awhile there are barely any French things left.  They sell bagels and muffins only….and Coke. We are different. When we came to America we tried to say what we are. We would be selling our soul, little by little if we sold only those things.

LePainGirls

Me: It doesn’t seem like your philosophy has stopped you from growing and succeeding here. Do you think people are eager for that authenticity? They know they can go get a Diet Coke down the road, they come here for something different.

Alain: Selling Coke would bring in a million dollar in profit for us in the US — says my business manager. But I say “no way.” We used to sell it, but we can hardly offer organic bread and all of our philosophy and then sell Coke.  We tested pulling it in some shops. Some people complain. American girls screaming “Where’s my Diet Coke!” (He throws his arms in the air with the first bit of animation I see in him.) But in the end, we didn’t lose any sells. We have conviction.

Me: No one loves a nice cold Diet Coke more than me, but I respect that you won’t sell it at Le Pain. I will go somewhere else to get it and come here for something different.

Alain: Maybe you are somewhat of The Diet Coke junkie (… he says with a smirk.)

Me: What? Me? That’s outrageous! (I pretend to be appalled at the very idea.)

Alain: No, I saw that you liked The Diet Coke on your web site. (…Then he begins a mercifully short lecture on the evils of what Diet Coke does to your insides. Then he smiles at me and when he smiles, his whole face changes. He is open and handsome. He knows I’m not going to give it up.)

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Me: I know … I know … But there’s one thing I like more than Diet Coke it’s conviction so when I come here I have your fantastic iced tea. (Changing the subject.) Is that what you’re hoping? That people in Orange County will come here and try something new? What would you suggest someone new to the bakery order, let’s say in the morning?

Alain: A good slice of bread with a side of organic salmon. Coffee. In Europe it’s more important to have good ingredients. The portion and size is not important, it (large portions) shouldn’t mean quality.

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Me: What would you hope guests would experience when they come to Le Pain that would be different from other restaurants or bakeries?

Alain: We have an all-day menu. You can come in at lunch time and just have an espresso. The waiter isn’t going to kick you out or hurry you along…give you a mean look (then he gives me a mean look). It’s built into our business model — we are here for the people who come here in every way. It’s not a theme. We are communal in every way. Authentic.

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We end the interview talking about my new iPhone 4S. He liked the feature and urged me to ask her silly questions. When I shy away from it, he takes it and asks her. We all laugh at her pre-programed response.

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Alain is an acclaimed author and chef in Europe and it’s not long before patrons start to recognize him. He hugs them and smiles warmly; obviously happy to have them come over and say hello. He asks all of them to come and sit with him.

He believes in what he is doing. He is authentic. Le Pain Quoitien is built on Alain’s sincere belief in simple, wholesome food and community and it’s success will continue to be fueled by those principles.

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The lowdown:

Le Pain Quotidien is nestled between Marcy’s and Forever 21 at Fashion Island.

Operating hours run along with Fashion Island’s hours.

One menu is served all day with three or four daily specials.

Table service is available along with retail and take-out options.

Phone number is: 949-287-5597

For information on Le Pain Quotidien’s baking classes, you can go to my post at OC Family.

 

 

 

 

 




Ruby’s Sky Ranch has something for everyone

Ruby’s Sky Ranch is a new look and concept for the Orange County classic–Ruby’s Diner.

 

Located on the Ruby’s Diner patio rooftop in San Juan Capistrano, Sky Ranch has views of the Mission, the sound of the train as it speeds through town and the great food you’ve come to expect from Ruby’s. It’s definitely a unique OC dinning experience.

“The good ‘ol Ruby’s service and value you’re going to get no matter if you’re sitting inside (in the traditional Ruby’s Diner) or out in Sky Ranch,” John Fisher, one of the owners, told me as we sat next to the outdoor fireplace.

Warmer tones, sweeping views, and the sound of martinis being shaken in the background come together to give Sky Ranch a mellow, more grown-up feeling. But the beauty of Sky Ranch is you can order for either menu; the traditional Ruby’s Diner–which offers those tried and true kids favorites–or the Sky Ranch menu which has new items like Maple Glazed Atlantic Salmon and The Cobb Kobe Burger.

Everybody’s happy.

I was in heaven experiencing two of my favorite things at once; a lemon drop martini at Ruby’s.  I know!  All I needed was a Ducks game playing on the big screen TV in the bar and my life would have been complete.

You have to check out the photo slideshow below to appreciate Ruby’s Sky Ranch.

The Lowdown:

— 31781 Camino Capistrano, Downtown San Juan Capistrano (next to the Regency Theatre)

–Traditional Kids’ Ruby’s Diner Menu available at Sky Ranch.

— Everyday (during the summer) 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

–Must try; the empanadas and the nachos.

–Follow Ruby’s on Twitter and Facebook for special offers.