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Archive for April, 2015

Roasted Artichoke Salad Mounds of colorful roasted artichoke salad, drizzled with basil vinaigrette, sat on a bed of fresh mixed greens. With roasted red peppers and artichokes hearts, capers, red onion, and parsley leaves, this salad made a perfect side dish for my mom’s Italian-themed birthday celebration. Don’t limit this spectacular salad to Italian dinners, though. You’ll want to serve this versatile dish at al fresco dinner parties, family barbecues, holiday brunches, and more!

Roasted Artichoke Salad
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS
4 boxes (9 ounces each) frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
6 tablespoons capers, drained
2 roasted red peppers, sliced thin
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 pinches hot red pepper flakes, optional

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the artichoke hearts in a bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss until the artichoke hearts are coated. Dump the artichoke hearts onto a sheet pan and spread out into 1 layer; roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Place the minced shallot, lemon juice, mustard, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the basil leaves and process into a green puree. With the processor running, slowly pour 1/2 cup olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube until the ingredients are finely pureed. Set aside.

4. Place the roasted artichoke hearts in a bowl and toss with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Add the capers, red peppers, red onion, parsley, 4 tablespoons vinegar and red pepper flakes, if using, and toss gently. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and let stand for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I couldn’t find frozen artichoke hearts, so I substituted canned. I let the artichokes drain in a colander. Before using, I gently squeezed any excess liquid from them.

2. I doubled the recipe, but probably should not have doubled the salt. I normally eat a low-sodium diet, so this recipe seemed a bit salty to me, especially with the addition of the capers, which I rinsed and drained first. I used one 4-ounce jar of capers, which amounted to 7 tablespoons of capers. The doubled amount would have been 12 tablespoons worth of capers.

3. If you double this recipe, make sure you roast it in a single layer in two separate baking sheets.

4. To get a good roast on the artichokes, I needed to roast them 30 minutes longer than specified.

5. In step 4, I cut the amount of vinegar by half and did not add any additional salt.

6. Although the photo doesn’t show it, one of my favorite ways to serve this salad is on a rectangular serving platter. Place a mound of greens lengthwise on the platter and then mound the artichoke salad on top of the greens. Additional basil vinaigrette may be drizzled on top.

7. I made this salad the day before the party. Because it can be made ahead of time, it is a great salad for entertaining.

Enjoy!

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Tuesday's Thoughts The words return, recover, and regroup define Mondays. Return to routines and schedules. Recover some semblance of order. Regroup by checking calendars, prioritizing, and taking inventory. I’m not a big fan of Mondays.

On Tuesdays, however, I allow myself to breathe. I write and let my mind stretch and my thoughts wander. I call these my Tuesday’s Thoughts. Starting today, I will throw some of these thoughts into the mix of my usual Tuesday content of food and crafts. Consider Tuesday’s Thoughts as food for thought. I am pleased to present this inaugural edition.

Today, I’m going to teach an art class at the Wellspring Women’s Center. The Center “nurtures the innate goodness and personal self-esteem of women and their children” and provides “all of the services in an atmosphere of hospitality with dignity and love.” Located in an impoverished area, the Center offers many services that “bolster the dignity and hope of people under duress.” I am most impressed that alongside food, counseling, wellness, and advocacy programs, it offers a free art therapy program called Art of Being: Wellness Through Creativity. Some of you may wonder, if the needs of these women are great and many, then why offer art classes? To this point, the Center states, “Creative expression is a powerful tool to cultivate the positive qualities of mindfulness and insight. Being present in our lives can help us to tap into our inner strength and wisdom and increase our feelings of well-being and joy.” Even though these women’s lives may be difficult, they are learning through art to see the world differently, to express themselves without fear and judgment, and to share their journeys. They are learning that who they are is more than where they live.

Tuesday’s Thoughts: Take a moment for yourself and feed your soul. Let loose your creativity. Be present in the moment. Do not judge or critique your creativity, because, if you do, you negate the joy you felt while freely expressing yourself.

Now go and spread joy!

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April 17, 2015 EditionLooking at a selfie of my granddaughter and me, I experienced a déjà vu moment. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the selfie reminded me of, until yesterday. Yesterday was my birthday. When I checked my Facebook page, an image of me and my daughter appeared on the computer screen. The image showed a much younger me, sporting a short hairstyle, carrying my infant daughter. The hairstyle in the photo is almost identical to the haircut I just got a few weeks ago. Other than carrying different babies in my arms, having a few more lines around my eyes, and showing a more generous sprinkling of freckles now, the two moments, 25 years apart, illustrate the proverb, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

#1 – Reincarnated Art
Telmo Pieper's Reincarnated Art Artist Telmo Pieper, from the Netherlands, took drawings he made when he was 4-years-old and reincarnated them with the help of digital effects. Check out the transformations of his art here.

#2 – Reliving The ’90s
How to Throw a '90s Party If the ’90s was your favorite decade, you might enjoy reliving it by throwing a party. Here are 29 Essentials For Throwing A Totally Awesome ’90s Party.

#3 – Children Versus Grandchildren
Are Grandchildren Better Than Children? Before my granddaughter was born, numerous friends and family members told me that being a grandparent was better than being a parent. Could that possibly be true? The article Are Grandchildren Better Than Kids? attempts to answer that question. If you are a grandparent, let me know what you think.

#4 – Things That Get Better With Age
50 Things That Get Better With AgeAmazingly some things actually improve with age. Would you like to know what these possibly could be? Check out this list from Prevention on 50 Things That Get Better With Age.

#5 – Changing
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Leo Tolstoy

Now go and spread joy!

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Korean Barbecued SpareribsIf barbequed ribs and Buffalo chicken wings top your list of favorite foods, you’ll love these easy Korean spareribs. Both HOT and sweet, these ribs will have you reaching for a glass of water, but only after you’ve licked your fingers clean!

Dwaeji-Galbi: Korean Barbequed Pork Ribs
Discovering Korean Cuisine: Recipes from the Best Korean Restaurants in Los Angeles, Edited by Allisa Park

INGREDIENTS
1½ pounds of pork ribs
1/2 cup Korean hot pepper paste (gochujang)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

DIRECTIONS
1. Put hot pepper paste, sugar, garlic, black pepper, and Asian sesame oil in a bowl. Stir to mix.

2. Chop the pork ribs between the bones. Add to the sauce and mix well.

3. For the best tasting Dwaeji-galbi, grill it over charcoal. If you don’t have a grill, you can also pan-fry it and then put it in the oven until fully cooked.

Serving size: 2

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Tubs of gochujang, Korean hot pepper paste, can be purchased in Asian markets. Be aware that it is sold in varying degrees of pepper heat. I made this recipe using a medium-hot #3 paste. The level of heat was perfect – enough heat, but not scorching. Korean gochujang

2. I purchased 3 pounds of pre-sliced packs of baby back pork ribs and doubled the sauce.

3. Because there is sugar in the sauce, the ribs can burn easily. Grill over low heat and keep an eye on them.

Enjoy!

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Water Drops on Succulent Cradled in the leaves of a succulent, drops of water shimmer like jewels. Throughout time, succulents have survived their arid conditions by adapting. They store water in their fleshy parts – leaves, stems, and roots. They evolved to survive. Will mankind evolve quickly enough to survive a potential megadrought? Will mankind learn to value water and treat it like the life-saving, shimmering jewel that it is?

#1 – What’s The Difference?
The Difference Between Cacti and Succulents Do you know the difference between a cactus and a succulent? Just in case you need to know, here is what U.C. Master Gardner Denise Levine wrote about the topic:

All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. Succulents (from the Latin word “succulentus,” for juice or sap) are defined by their moisture-storing capacity and come from many botanical families. Medicinal aloe veras and familiar Chicks and Hens are two examples of succulents many of us are familiar with.

Cacti have small, round, cushion-like structures called areoles from which spines, branches, hair, leaves and even flowers grow. While many succulents may look like cacti in every other respect, if they don’t have these circular areoles, they are not in the cactus (Cactaceae) family.

Another distinction is that succulents are native to most parts of the world, but cacti are only indigenous from Alaska to Chile in the Western Hemisphere. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine have never found a native cactus, but Canada has found several that have evolved to survive Canada’s freezing winters.

#2 – Oldest Living Things
The Oldest Living Things in the World With my birthday approaching next week, I started searching for other old living things. This search led me to Rachel Sussman’s photographs of “The Oldest Living Things In The World.” After viewing the photo of 12,000 year-old Mojave yucca plants, which are succulents, and her other incredible photos, I suddenly felt very young. Everything is relative.

#3 – Miniature Fairy Gardens
Miniature and Fairy GardeningHere’s a project for the young-at-heart. Check out Naturework’s photos of Miniature and Fairy Gardening. You’ll put transforming a broken clay pot into a fairy garden on your “Creative To Do” list.

#4 – Rock Cacti Garden
Cacti Made Of Painted Rocks This cute and clever idea suits people like me who have sparks of creativity, but also have brown thumbs. Be on the lookout for perfect rock formations, so that you can make your own Cactus Made of Painted Rocks.

#5 – Sit or Don’t Sit
“The world is full of cactus, but we don’t have to sit on it.”
Will Foley

Now go and spread joy!

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n-Cheese Mighty Muffins Sometimes in life, bigger is better. Imagine a muffin that’s larger than a teacup. That translates to more crunchy muffin top to enjoy and more tender muffin to savor. This recipe won’t disappoint. It’s big, versatile, and beautiful. And if you’re on the go, wrap one up and take it with you. Nothing’s better than a freshly-baked muffin to munch on while you’re in transit.

Corn-Cheese Mighty Muffins
Sunset Magazine, October 1986

INGREDIENTS
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
3½ teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (4 oz.) firmly packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine, melted

DIRECTIONS
1. In a large bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, and baking powder.

2. Reserve 2 tablespoons of cheese: stir remaining cheese into flour mixture.

3. Form a well in center of flour mixture.

4. In a small bowl, beat to blend milk, egg, and butter; pour into well in flour mixture. Stir just until lightly blended; batter should be lumpy.

5. Spoon batter equally into 4 greased 6-ounce custard cups (set cups at least 2 inches apart on a shallow baking pan) or 6 greased muffin cups 2½ to 2¾ inches in diameter (fill alternate muffin cups); cups will be heaping full.

6. Sprinkle reserved cheese evenly over muffins.

7. Bake filled custard cups in a 375°F oven, filled muffin cups in a 400° oven, until browned and a slender wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes for custard cup-size muffins, 25 to 30 minutes for smaller ones.

8. Let cool about 5 minutes. Remove muffins from cups or pans and serve hot or warm.

Makes 4 mighty or 6 large muffins.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. The sprinkling of cheddar cheese on top gives these muffins an extra nice crunch.

2. I added some finely minced ham (leftover from Easter) into the batter just after adding the liquid components. This is a versatile recipe: you could also add corn kernels, chopped green chilies, or even bacon. Take some creative liberty!

3. Do not over-stir the batter. It’s okay for the batter to have lumps. Too much stirring overdevelops the gluten in the flour which can result in tough and rubbery muffins.

4. Grease the top rims of the custard cups or muffin tins. This will help the muffins release more easily from the cups, especially as they rise and bake over the edges.

5. All ovens vary in temperature and heat distribution. Be careful not to over bake muffins or else they will be dry.

Enjoy!

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April 3, 2015 Edition What About This? is out hiding Easter eggs, but will be back with a new post next week!

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