Homemade Olive Bread

It was definitely a mistake making this bread... because it didn't last more than a day! Try freezing half so you don't over do it! Yeah, we ate it all in one day. But it was that good!

Olive Bread (or Rolls)

What you'll need:
1 cup olives in pitted, in brine, drained and finely chopped (I used Kalamatas)
6 1/2 cups white bread flour, a little extra for dusting
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 packet active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
2 tbsp olive oil, and a little extra for brushing
4 tbsp finely chopped FRESH herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano blend)

What you'll do:

Try and find already pitted olives... otherwise you'll have to pit them before you pat with towel to dry a bit and chop! Set them aside after chopping.

Combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, yeast) in a large bowl. Make a little well for water and oil. Add liquids gradually to mix and stir in until all dough is drawn in to form a lump. Lightly knead in the olives and herbs for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and sort of elastic. Coat the dough VERY lightly with oil. (All flour should be off sides after kneading).

Shape dough into ball, and leave in bowl with a dish towel or plastic wrap tightly covered around the ball. Preheat oven to 425 and wait for dough to double in size.
Knead dough lightly again and roll into a ball or section out as you please for little rolls. Cover and let rise again for 15 minutes.

Brush the top with olive oil again if it needs it and then bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until the outside is COMPLETELY golden brown. Not beige... BROWN! A big loaf will take about an hour... if you made little rolls it will be less. Judge by how golden brown it gets.

This tasted great with my White Bean Soup yesterday!


Snow & Soup

It was Blizzardy this weekend in the North East! 
Naturally, I took some photos and made soup and bread from scratch!

The Snow:

White Bean Soup with Olive Tapenade

What you'll need for the soup:
2 15oz cans white beans (use another can if you want thicker soup!)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 large leek (just the white part), sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped finely
1 large carrot (or 2 small), chopped finely
1 small fennel bulb, chopped finely
8 cups water
2 bouillon cubes (or 2 packets chicken or veggie stock concentrate)
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
salt and pepper to taste

What you'll need for the Olive Tapenade:
1 garlic clove (give it a rough chop)
1 small bunch fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 6oz/8oz bottle almond stuffed olives (found these in store with other canned olives)
5 tbsp olive oil

What you'll do:
Prepare the tapenade first by added all ingredients in a food chopper/processor. Set aside for topping soup and/or bread.

Chop all vegetables and soup ingredients before cooking. Heat oil in a large soup pot. Cook onions and leeks for about 3-4 minutes with the pot covered. When they get soft, add in the carrots, celery, garlic, and fennel. Stir and cook for another few minutes. Add in water, stock/bouillon, herbs and bring to a bowl. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for about a 1/2 hour. Add in beans and cook for another 10 minutes. I used an immersion hand blender for this step to puree the soup. Otherwise you can puree in a blender, just be careful! Salt and pepper the soup before serving and you can turn heat off and cool at this point. Toss in some of the tapenade for added value!

Tomorrow I'll post the Olive Bread Recipe that I served with the soup!!

How was your holiday?


Happy Holidays!!

Just want to wish all of my lovely readers a very happy and safe holiday.
Thank you so much for stopping by, I appreciate the comments so much!

I may be off the blogs until next week, but in the meantime... here's a little something to bring you Holiday Cheer:

And yes, the show on Broadway is a must see.
Don't miss out on it. Get your tickets here!


Italian Ways to Live By

I'm reading a great book called Living La Dolce Vita . Just in the first few pages, I found something that I wanted to share with all of you, especially during the holidays! Let's try these out for the holiday and New Year shall we?

1. Keep family ties alive and positive.
2. Make time for old friends and for making new ones.
3. Make love a part of everything you say and do in life.
4. Keep the dinnertime focus on good nutrition and good relationships.
5. Take care of your money, but remember what true wealth is.
6. Always put your best foot forward in all situations.
7. Improve your communication skills to improve your relationships.
8. Reconnect to God (or Gods) to gain meaning and appreciation for your life.
9. Cultivate a positive attitude, it will change your life.


Easy {and Healthy} Flatbread

If your BF demands a pizza for dinner, whip up this healthy and VERY filling flatbread for yourself. It's delicious, full of protein and lower in fat than any pizza!
What you'll need:
1 large whole wheat pita bread
1 6oz chicken breast
2 oz soft goat cheese (crumble it up)
2 cups leafy greens or spinach (I used baby mesclun)
1-2 tbsp vinaigrette dressing
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tarragon
1/4 cup freshly chopped basil

What you'll do:
Preheat oven to 350 and toast the pita bread for about 10 minutes until hot and crispy. Season the chicken on both sides with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and tarragon. Cook in a little oil on a skillet and slice when fully cooked. When your pita is toasted place it on your plate. Top the pita in this order: greens, goat cheese, chicken slices, dressing, and basil. I sprinkled more red pepper flakes on top because I like to keep things sassy with no guilt!

Are you ready for the holidays!?!

New to the blog in 2011 will be some Blog Design that I have done for others so stay tuned! Who knows, maybe you will like what you see and I can do a refresh for you! ;o)


Holiday Gifts For Foodies

If you are still looking for Holiday gifts, 
and you have some foodies in your life, 
here are some great ideas!


I actually have this Juicer. It's fantastic. Super fast, super easy, and easy clean-up. 

Mandoline Slicers are great tools for slicing tough-to-cut firm vegetables like potatoes and other roots. Great for ratatouille!

I really want one of these. They are fantastic for creating delicious thick soups more simply than throwing super hot chunks in a blender clump at a time!


Let your red wines breath quickly with this fun decanter... no need to wait for a full-bodied toast!

Perfect for entertaining, one always wants to serve wine at the perfect temperature!


Julia Child and Jamie Oliver's books are so lovely and classic, every cook and foodista should have them in his/her cupboard!


1. This ADMIT ONE TRAY is perfect for the foodie/movie lover. Movie night themes are never complete without movie inspired kitchenware!

2. To time for that perfect temperature in meats, this cute CHICKEN TIMER does the trick but also adds a bit more flare than the boring ones don't you think?

3. For the literary dreamer, these ALICE IN WONDERLAND inspired glasses add a little wink and some fun to any cabinet.



Eat, Drink, Watch!

After revealing my favorite Holiday films yesterday, I felt a sudden urge to reveal my favorite foodie films! Not docu's about all the monstrosities in farming and all that, but happy/funny/inspiring fare that either centers around, or has some character of food, spice and everything nice! Note: These are just my favorites that I have actually seen... this is not a "best of the best" list that can be ripped off any article on the internet!

A silky dreamy story of a beautiful woman and her daughter who travel with the wind to bring tasty pleasures to the townsfolk... and the velvety Johnny Depp!

Favorite Quote:
Roux (Johnny Depp): I'll come 'round sometime and get that squeak out of your door.

A cartoon delight with cute rats and French sass!

Favorite Quote:
Colette: I hate to be rude, but we're French!

(not Anthony Bourdain... but that is TV and even more delicious)

A light and cheesy romance to enjoy by candlelight.

Favorite Quote:
Kate: You bring in a sous chef from an Italian restaurant and I'm the one in therapy?

Southern fried hospitality and love at it's finest!

Favorite Quote:
Sipsey: Secret's in the sauce.

Spicy, with bold notes of hilarity and symbolism.

Favorite Quote(s):
Miles: No, if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!

What are your favorite Foodie Films?


The Christmas Countdown {In Movies}

It's that time of year to cuddle on the couch with a loved one (human or furry... or both!) and watch Christmas movies. Here are some of my favorites (in no particular order)!

Love Actually

The Ref

A Christmas Story

It's a Wonderful Life

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Christmas Vacation

What are your DVD traditions?


Part 5: San Francisco's Sea Lions!

On Pier 39 in San Francisco, you can eat at touristy seafood restaurants and shop in expensive shops, and your kids can play games and ride the carousel... but the real attraction, in my opinion, are the sea lions. They are so cute, funny and animated... I had to go see them twice!



Part 4: San Francisco Treats!

It's easy to be indecisive when it comes to choosing a place to dine in San Francisco. Like my beloved New York City, you have Chinatown, Little Italy (ok ok North Beach), bistros, diners and steak houses everywhere! But here are my note worthy selections:

Trattoria Pinocchio 

A fantastic little Italian mecca run by a true Sicilian! We had the Warm Seafood Salad (absolutely stunning dish... I have to say this because we ate it before a picture was taken), Linguine Palermo (a dish the chef's eat everyday!), Chicken Saltimboca, Chianti (try Ruffino, magnifico!) Tiramisu, Cappuccinos, and of course...  Pinocchio’s house made Limoncello! Ask for JOSH (the bartender) and tell him Derek and Kristen sent you! (Hey Josh, if you are reading!)

A great place for people watching. Sit under the heated lamps (it's winter in NoCal after all), and watch the crazies walk by. Seriously... Great Entertainment + Pizza (not NYC but tasty) + Calamari + Scallops x Chianti = MANGIA! Oh, and it's right across from Pinocchio's so you can have your Limoncello after... I don't stray far from favorites as you can see.

A great brunch spot to enjoy cafe's, eggs benedict, and omelets with perfectly cooked potatoes and sweet fruits! A surprise is that the bistro also offers a huge assembly of reading material to it's patrons. They also sell wines and other treats.

When you are in a new city (and not a tiny one at that) and more than 2 people mention a place, you have to go there! House of Nanking seems to be a favorite amongst travelers and locals, and when we sat down to dine we were immediately blown away by the Hot Tea and Soup. "Stunned by soup?" As Elaine on Seinfeld once said. The Soup Nazi's got nothin' on The (Nan)KING! Try the Soups, Sesame Chicken and Chow Mein, or, offer the staff to bring you their signature dishes... because they will!

And for when you want a 4 dollar brew, head over to The Saloon. Not only one of the top blues bars in the city, but THE OLDEST. Bands, hippies, and a clean toilet. What more could a girl ask for? P.S. don't be afraid of the bearded man at the door!

Have you been to San Francisco? 
Do you live there? 
Where are your favorite places to dine and drink?


Part 3: San Francisco's Alcatraz

During our visit we hopped on a ferry, and with the theme song from The Rock in our heads, crossed the bay to Alcatraz . Once a lighthouse, military fortification, and prison (closed in 1963), The Rock is now a, in my own words, kick ass place to visit. It's morbid as hell, and the audio tour featuring former prisoners will send chills down your spine. Welcome to The Rock! (cue music ...)

Be Good!


Part 2: San Francisco FORT MASON MARKET

Albeit the fact that it is December, the markets in Northern California are still thriving. If there was one thing that would entice me to move to the West Coast it would be the food. Fresh, wholesome, and everyone takes pride in it! Couldn't you eat like this everyday? Check out the Fort Mason Farmer's Market in San Francisco!

More on San Francisco this week!