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Oakes Farms Meets Naples Home Cooks: From Seed to Our Table

The next time you find yourself standing in a grocery store, and some guy with a camera loudly asks if there are any home cooks around, and you are the only person there, I say, GO FOR IT!

This happened, and my dream of becoming a Food Network Star was at my fingertips…well, sort of.

What started as a plan to cook a quiet dinner, soon blossomed into an incredible cocktail party with our amazing friends pitching in, all the while our PR guy, Larry from TellYourVision.Net, filmed us from start to finish!

Check out our commercial here!

And, here is the recipe you have all been waiting for!

STEVE’S PAN FRIED FLORIDA GROUPER BITESfullsizeoutput_13cae

INGREDIENTS:

•1 lb fresh Wild Florida Grouper Fillets, washed & patted dry

•2 organic eggs, beaten

•2 C. Cheez-it crackers ground fine

•2 C. Parmesan cheese grated

•1/2 C. Organic Olive Oil

DIRECTIONS:

•In a food processor, blend Cheez-it crackers with the parmesan cheese.

•Cut the grouper into 1” bite size pieces.

•Heat the oil over medium high heat.

•Dip each fillet in egg and toss in the cracker/cheese mixture to coat.

•Place each fillet into the hot oil taking care not to over crowd the fish.

•Cook for 3-4 min. per side until golden brown.

•Remove and serve immediately with your favorite tarter sauce, cocktail sauce or mustard sauce.

Dear Friends,
Thanks for swinging by! Stay tuned in the next few weeks for more great recipes and entertaining ideas from our Naples friends.
Cheers to sharing celebrations with love.
Laura

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Gifts from the Garden…Yes Please!

I have had the fortune of great friends with the greenest of green thumbs extoll gifts from their garden. I LOVE summer’s bounty am elated when the supply far exceeds the demand. Truthfully, how much zucchini, tomatoes, beats and lettuce can one eat in a week? Hmmmm…..

So, with open hands and a grateful heart, I accept these gifts and in return, I share recipes, dog treats and treasures from my kitchen.

My zucchini growing friends did quite well this year….you know who you are 😘 and I am sharing one of my favorite recipes…Zucchini Napoleons.

ZUCCHINI CAKE NAPOLEONS

Makes 4 servings 

SHRED:

  • 4 zucchini, green, yellow or both (4 cups)
  • 1/2 C. shredded onion
  • 1/2 C. shredded Romano cheese
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

WHISK:

  • 2 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning 
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup Italian panko (or Italian breadcrumbs)

HEAT:

3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

ASSEMBLE:

  • 1 large tomato
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 Cup prepared pesto (I use Trader Joe’s…cheap + fresh)
  • Basil sprigs

Shred zucchini and onion

Place zucchini and onion in a salad spinner, sprinkle with salt and let stand 30 minutes. 

Spin mixture in a salad spinner to dry; transfer to a kitchen towel and squeeze to remove more liquid.

Whisk together egg, garlic, Italian seasoning, and baking powder.
Stir in zucchini mixture and panco. 

Scoop batter with 1/2 cup measure onto a baking sheet and press into 8 cakes.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil with drippings in skillet. Sauté cakes in two batches over medium heat until golden, about 4 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed.

Add a mozzarella slice to each cake in the last 2 minutes of sautéing to slightly melt mozzarella. 

Transfer cakes to a paper-towel-lined plate. 

Assemble Napoleons by layering

  • fresh mozzarella slice
  • a tomato slice
  • 2 T. pesto 
  •  Top each with a remaining cake and garnish with a basil sprig; serve immediately 

Dear Friends,

Summer’s bounty isn’t over until it’s over. I hope you enjoy this delicious dish. It has great presentation and doesn’t take forever to make…just a few small steps.

Great friends are truly a blessing. I remember taking a Steven Covey class many years ago where he emphasized the concepts of deposits and withdrawals in friendship. “Over deposit and under withdraw” was his best advice in any relationship and no words could be truer.

Cheers to friends, family and everything else you love. Until next time…

🍸Laura

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My Comfort Food Falling Out

For some reason, we are convinced that with the onset of fall and winter, we should be eating comfort food…delicious, stick to the ribs (and everywhere else)…filling, satisfying, fattening food. Then comes spring and we wonder why our shorts don’t fit and our feet have gone up a half size. 

Try a bowl of shepherds pie laced with buttery mashed potatoes or how about a nice slice of mac and cheese stuffed meatloaf? These are truly amazing. 

So, my question is this: Is it comfort food season, or are we stress eating because it will soon be snowy and cloudy for the next six months??

If I sound like a bah humbug about fall and winter, it’s no accident. That being the case, I have made a diligent attempt to find seasonal recipes that limit the fat but keep the comfort.

And by the way, shortcuts of all kinds in my recipes are more than acceptable. Trader Joe’s is stocked with affordable and organic choices for meal prep goodies. Costco is another great place if you are feeding a large crowd. 

PS…I will absolutely post those amazing comfort food recipes as well. No reason not to…

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD WITH PORT VINAIGRETTE

FOR THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH

  • 1 Butternut Squash, cut in small pieces
  • 8 shallots, peeled, halved
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • Sprinkle of onion salt (I like the Trader Joe’s)

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup port wine
  • 1 T. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

FOR THE SALADS

BUILD EACH SALAD WITH

  1. 1 cup spring mix salad greens
  2. Roasted butternut squash and shallots
  3. 2 T. Port Vinaigrette
  4. 2 T. crumbled blue cheese
  5. 2 T. toasted walnut pieces

 

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Toss the butternut squash and shallots in olive oil in a large roasting pan. Lightly sprinkle with onion salt (or sea salt).

Roast in the lower oven for 15 minutes.

Prepare the vinaigrette:

Combine vinegar, honey, port, ginger, and rosemary. Pour this syrup over the roasting squash and return the pan to the oven; roast for 10 more minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer squash and shallots to a bowl.

Pour syrup into a measuring cup and whisk in enough oil to make 11/4 cups vinaigrette, season, and set aside.

 

Build each salad starting with greens.

Top with squash and shallots, and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese and toasted walnuts.

*If you aren’t a fan of butternut squash, try using pears for a delicious twist. Roast them or use them sliced raw.

Dear Friends,

Sorry it has been so long. Summer has taken me away from my computer but I am back to share.

Always on a search for delicious EASY winners and I am happy to search for ones you are looking for. Email or send a txt.

Cheers to celebrating simple things every day and cherishing friends and loved ones.

🍷 Laura

PS…Check out my latest Trader Joe’s obsessions! Just one click away!

 

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Cook with it, mix it with your peanut butter, or use it on your skin! I can’t get enough of this!

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TRADER JOE'S SWEET PEPPER JELLY

This is a staple if you entertain! Mix it with cream cheese + serve with crackers for an easy and delicious appetizer!

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To Cook or Not to Cook….That is the ???

Well, as they say, “When in Rome…,” but in Naples…….Florida, it’s great fun to do as the Naples’ Floridians do….enjoy dining out on Fifth Avenue South! The epicurean choices are so incredible that dining in doesn’t always cut it. I try to justify it to myself, and Steve, by convincingly insisting that amazing meal ideas can be born from amazing restaurants. 

Actually, it’s devastating…..(slightly dramatic, I know) to eat a mediocre meal in a restaurant and know that you can have a much better dinner at home. Dining out is a treat and I’m committed to duplicating and sharing some of my faves from my recent travels to Naples, Florida.

Sea Salt is one of our favorites and the chef  nailed it on creativity and taste with his Caesar Salad Sushi Bites.

CAESAR SALAD SUSHI BITES

The first time I made these, I over filled them. Less is more, so that they are able to roll up and sit on the plate for a delicious presentation.

Caesar Salad Sushi Bites

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 romaine leaves
  • Caesar Dressing (store bought or home made)
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • Small jar of red lumpfish caviar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash, dry and lay each romaine leaf flat.
  2. Spread 1 T on each leaf.
  3. Sprinkle 2 T Parmesan cheese on each leaf.
  4. Carefully and tightly roll each romaine leaf up lengthwise.
  5. Cut off loose ends and and slice evenly down the middle. (Each leaf makes 2 rolls)
  6. Repeat with remaining leaves.
  7. Turn each ‘sushi roll’ flat and top with 1/2 t. dressing and a sprinkle of caviar.
  8. Serve with chopsticks!

CAESAR SALAD DRESSING

Combine + Serve
  • 6 cloves garlic, mashed and minced.
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard.
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar.
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise.
  • 1/2 cup olive oil.
  • Lemon juice, for seasoning.
  • Minced anchovy fillets, optional.

One of the new kids on the block in downtown Naples is The Bevy; a delightful, open air restaurant featuring a living wall, beautiful bar and a retractable skylight ceiling. The food and drinks here insight the senses with every sip and bite.

Steve was more than delighted with his appetizer of Deviled Oysters which include yellow conrmeal oysters, deviled eggs and candied bacon. fullsizeoutput_4113

Our friend, Bob, loved his craft cocktail, The Cedar Fire Old Fashioned which features bastille 1789 whiskey, orange bitters, maples syrup, smoked glass and candied bacon.

 

DEVILED EGGS

DEVILED EGGS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp minced shallot or onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Paprika

DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil the eggs in water 10-12 min.
  2. Peal the eggs, cut the in half lengthwise and remove the yolks.
  3. Mash yolks with mustard, mayonnaise, onion, Tabasco, salt, pepper. (For finer consistency, place in a food processor.
  4. 4 Pipe or spoon mixture into egg white halves: Pipe through a piping bag (star tip) or simply use a spoon to put the egg yolk mixture into the egg white halves. 
  5. Serve as is, or top with your favorite toppings: candied bacon, smoked salmon, caviar, jalapeño

CANDIED BACON

CANDIED BACON

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Mix brown sugar, rice vinegar, maple syrup, and black pepper in a small bowl.
  • Place bacon slices on cooling rack set over a baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, turn slices, and bake another 5 minutes.

 

 

CORNMEAL FRIED OYSTERS

  • Heat deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  • Combine cornmeal, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, black pepper and seasoned salt in a large plastic bag.
  • Place oysters in bag and shake until well coated.
  • Cook oysters 3 or 4 at a time in hot oil.

 

Dear Friends,

Recently I read a great article on happiness……stating simply that: if your happiness depends on just one thing, you are setting yourself up for unhappiness. So, for example, if your happiness depends on sunshine and warm weather, and you live in Northeast Ohio, many of your days will be unhappy. In sunny Naples, Florida, even when it’s chilly, the sunshines which is a blessing.

Walking in sunshine and sharing delicious recipes are two of my favorite things, so thank you for swinging by and I hope you enjoy these nuggets of yum! Be sure to check out some of my fun finds in The Sunshine Shop!

Until next time…

🍹Cheers! Laura

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THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

MUSICAL NOTES“When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad….I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad!” MUSICAL NOTES Oscar Hammerstein’s song resonates holiday for me.   “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and “In My Own Little Corner” are amongst his other iconic pieces which conjure emotion. Click to listen ….My Favorite Things – Julie Andrews

With the constant stream of men charged with sexual harassment these days, it’s a breath of fresh air to  revisit the lives of beautiful people and read quotes which helped make them famous.  My favorite Oscar Hammerstein quote is: “A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it, A song’s not a song ’til you sing it, Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay, Love isn’t love ’til you give it away!” Reading it closely, I now wonder if, in today’s world, someone would misconstrue that as sexual harassment……

In a recent edition of “O The Oprah Magazine, staff and readers were asked to respond to the question of the month; “WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE HOLIDAY SONG?” The responses were varied and personal as you might imagine. They ran the gamut of predictability to absurd, but all a fun quick read. My personal favorite with the response from the Senior Web Editor, Ruth Baron, whose ultimate holiday song was, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” She stated that she grew up Jewish and that song convinced her that all of her “Santa-believing” friends could have anything they wanted.

One of my favorite things at any time of year is cookies. Around the holidays, however, from early November through late December, I’m partial to the gingerbread cookie. The aroma of these delicious little morsels screams, “Welcome home!”  to all who enter your kitchen, that is if they aren’t burning :). 

Here it is….the Ultimate Gingerbread Cookie. Remember….under-bake, serve warm (reheat in the microwave if you need to before serving) AND they go well with hot spiced apple cider with a splash of rum.

THE ULTIMATE GINGERBREAD COOKIE

IMG_6838

Ingredients
  1. • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  2. • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  3. • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  5. • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  6. • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  8. • 1 cup white sugar
  9. • 1 egg
  10. • 1 tablespoon water
  11. • 1/4 cup molasses
  12. • 4 tablespoons white sugar
Instructions
  1. Mix together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses.
  4. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture.
  5. Shape the dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar.
  6. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. You don’t need to flatten them.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.
  8. Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Makes approximately 30 cookies. Store in an airtight container.

fullsizeoutput_3c69.jpeg

  • Unbaked cookies can be stored in the freezer and popped in the oven!

Dear Friends,

Wishing you the happiest of Holidays and health in the New year.

Cheers!

Laura

P.S. If you feel like shopping, check out these finds….

LAURA’S FAVORITE THINGS SHOP

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