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Farmers' market finds: Ripe figs & heirloom tomatoes

Recently I've been trying to buy our produce at the Oceanside Farmers' Market. I have a flexible work schedule and I thought I should really take advantage of this little local gem. The market is open year round and is only about a mile from my home. I've gone every week for a month now and we've tried some food we wouldn't normally buy. I figured it was time to start keeping track of what we made so here I am! 

This week I got some really great mission figs and sweet heirloom cherry tomatoes. I wasn't planning on using them together but we found this recipe for Beef Tri-tip with Roasted Figs and hello, it was amazing. I didn't have any fancy little onions so I used regular sweet onions and roughly followed this recipe to gauge roasting time before adding the figs and tomatoes. 

Adding a olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the figs and tomatoes before roasting yielded a sweet sauce that we used over the beef rather than making a gravy. It was perfect and what I've learned is that I need to roast figs a lot more often!


{Recipe} Honey Chipotle Spiced Pecans

Meet your new favorite party treat. The Honey Chipotle Spiced Pecans are a crowd pleaser. They're spicy, salty, sweet and totally irresistable. They are easy to whip up and they'll disappear fast!

Honey Chipotle Spice Pecans


2 tbsp honey
1 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cups pecan halves
2 tbsp granulated sugar (I use raw sugar)
3/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the honey, chipotle powder, cayenne and cinnamon. Warm through. Stir nuts into warmed honey mixture to coat well. Spread honey-coated nuts in a single layer on to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1 minute. In a clean mixing bowl, combine sugar and salt. Add hot nuts to bowl and toss to coat. Return nuts to baking sheet and allow to cool completely. Yum!



Freezing Avocados

One of the perks of living in Southern California is the abundance of avocados. There are many different varieties of avocados and they ripen at different times throughout the year. Our neighbor's tree decided to choose this week to ripen and her little, 90 year old self was not going to eat all the fruit. We gladly accepted many heavy bags full of avocados and have since been gorging ourselves on the velvety goodness. We had about a dozen very ripe avocados and couldn't finish them so we decided to try and freeze them. Here's how:

1. Wash the avocados.

2. Cut and peel the avocados.

3. Place flesh in a bowl, add about 1 tbsp of lemon or lime juice per 3-4 avocados.

4. Mash the avocados with a potato masher or fork.

5. Put avocado in vacuum seal bags or airtight storage containers and freeze.

I am kind of excited to have a stockpile of avocado in my freezer. I'm not sure how the consistency will be on after freezing but I will update this post when I have some. I am expecting it to be perfect for guacamole, avocado smoothies or a sandwich spread.


Lobster Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite things to make. I mean, what's better than cheese and butter coated rice? Not much! I made this lobster risotto for a special occassion and wow was it good. I found the idea for the recipe on the Stone Brewery blog but I cooked differently than they recommended. I prefer to cook my risotto more in the style of Jamie Oliver. My combo cooking method is in the recipe below. 

Lobster Risotto

Serves 8 to 10


1½ Tbsp olive oil

1 cup onions, chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6½ cups seafood or vegetable stock

1 tsp garlic, minced

1 tsp orange zest

1 tsp lemon zest

2 cups Arborio rice

¼ cup heavy cream

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1½ pounds lobster meat, chopped into bit-sized pieces

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

In a sauce pan, bring stock to a simmer. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the onions soften slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and zest and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir constantly for about a minute. Add a ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn't cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream, Parmesan and butter. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly season the lobster with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining oil in a medium-sized sauté pan over medium-high. Add the lobster meat and sauté very lightly until cooked (unless using cooked lobster, then cook until the meat is hot all the way through). Add the lobster and remaining stock to the risotto mixture. Adjust the seasoning if needed. To serve, ladle the risotto in a bowl and garnish with parsley.


Note: Lobster was not readily available on the day I chose to cook this recipe. I substitued langostino meat for the lobster. Langostino has a more mild flavor than lobster and it worked very well in this case


Best Ever Bread Machine Loaf

I might be one of the last people on earth to use that 1990s sensation, THE BREAD MACHINE, but I hope not! Because this is my favorite recipe for bread baked in my bread machine. It's a white bread that's a slight take on a brioche-style and I know exactly what's gone in to it. No HFCS here! The bread includes both egg and milk which makes the finished a hearty treat with a crispy crust.

Best Ever Bread Machine Loaf
Makes one 1.5 lb loaf

3 tbsp milk
1 cup water
2.5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened 
1 large egg
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp rapid-rise yeast

Combine ingredients in bread machine pan in the order which they appear. Set bread machine for a 1.5 pound loaf with rapid-rise yeast. Bake, butter and enjoy!