Sacramento Farm Tour

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Last month the California Farm Water Coalition invited me on the Sacramento Farm Tour, and as always it was amazing. We toured the Lundberg Rice facility, met its owners (the most humble of family businesses by the way), rode in a combine (rice harvester), and got to go on a mini shopping spree in their store.

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We also visited a Kiwi and Chestnut farm. Being a huge fan of chestnuts, I loved this farm. It was also interesting to see how kiwis were grown, something I had never even thought of before.

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After the Kiwi farm we stopped and toured and sampled olive oil from Lucerno Olive Oil. This was an amazing experience because we were taught how to properly sample oil from an Olive Oil Sommelier!

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Our stop on the tour was a walnut farm. Here we learned how the walnuts are grown, harvested, and dried. He also sent us home with a ton of walnuts which will make for some killer Italian cookies in the coming weeks.

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Now the reason that we were invited on this tour was to see first hand how the drought is affecting our farmers. I have talked about the issue many times here on the blog, and it has become an issue near and dear to my heart.

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However, now that we are living in a home (before we lived in an apartment) and paying our water bill, it has been even more eye opening. As we struggle to keep our 30 year old fruit trees alive by water only on the days we are allocated and paying a ballooned rate for water, I am really starting to understand the farmer’s frustrations that much more. Don’t get me wrong, we are not trying to make a living off of our trees, but the farmer’s are!

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California farmer’s are facing this issue day in and day out. With zero surface water and having to depend solely on their wells, these farmer’s are struggling to keep not only their family business afloat, but also their life long investment.

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Their crops are being significantly cut because they do not have enough water to keep them alive. Do you know what this means? It means that the cost of food goes up! With California farming producing such a significant amount of the nation’s produce, a reduction in farming will be a huge deal.

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The CFWC has added a new FB page called Faces of the California Drought. Check it out and read the stories of real farmers and what they are going through in order to survive! For more information about the drought, visit the Food Grows Where Water Flows page. Also, check out my previous posts from Fresno, Imperial Valley, and Fresno again :)

CFWC paid for my trip however all opinions are my own.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies #NorthPoleFun #CollectiveBias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

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Growing up I have precious memories of baking hundreds of pounds of Italian cookies before Thanksgiving. Normally I would stay home for a couple of days from school and we would bake from sunset to sunrise. People around us would eagerly await their tray of fresh Italian cookies.

chocolate cookies

There would be Christmas carols playing in the background and the floor covered in flour. Sprinkles would be absolutely everywhere and there would be a stack of no less than 5 large stainless steel pans in the sink. Although my grandparents we clean-a-holics, this mess didn’t bother them. We would eventually clean up at the end of the day singing and dancing to Rocking Around A Christmas tree.

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I do everything I can to give my kids these kinds of memories. Every year we too take a few days to make our friends and family trays of homemade cookies and candies. Even though we have our traditional cookies, they always get to pick a new recipe to try.

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This year, we were so excited to find Hallmark’s new Northpole Collection at Walmart. With fun cookie baking supplies and adorable bowls perfect for gift giving, we are going to have some very happy recipients! My daughter asked to have some friends over to help us bake. The loved using the rolling cookie cutter and sprinkle bell!

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And of course there is no better way to end a long fun day of Christmas carols and baking then with an adorable Christmas story, homemade cookies, and a glass of hot chocolate!

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Check out this cute video and make sure to watch Northpole this Saturday on the Hallmark Channel!

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped candy canes
  • 1/2 powdered sugar
  • 1 package white chocolate peppermint candies

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Begin by cream butter and sugar together.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time mixing well after each addition.
  5. Mix in vanilla.
  6. In a sperate bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  7. Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture, mixing until just combined.
  8. Stir in chocolate chips and chopped candy canes.
  9. Make one inch round balls and dip into powdered sugar.
  10. Gently press in chocolate candy.
  11. Bake cookies for 8-9 minutes.
  12. Cool and enjoy!
http://theseasidebaker.com/2014/11/10/chocolate-peppermint-cookies-northpolefun-collectivebias/

 

Pumpkin Spice OREO Cookie Balls #OREOCookieBalls #CollectiveBias

This #OREOCookieBalls shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Pumpkin balls

Whenever I am in a pinch and need a quick dessert, I always turn to OREO Cookie Balls. No matter the flavor or decoration, they are always a hit! We have made them for almost every holiday. Spooky eyeballs for Halloween, hearts for Valentine’s Day, mini cupcakes for birthdays and so much more! The OREO filling is so delicious, that I usually use it to fill my cakes on my birthday!!!

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They are also a great activity to do with your kids. That is, if you can stop them from eating all of the ball filling! My kids get so excited when it is OREO Cookie Ball making time and they have a field day decorating them!

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These little pumpkins would be a perfect dessert for your Thanksgiving table. Bite sized, your guests will be able to get there sweet fixed even though they are already stuffed. Because these taste like a delightful piece of pumpkin pie, you are essentially getting the best of both worlds!

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With this simple recipe requiring only 3 ingredients, and the vast amount of OREO cookie flavors available at Walmart, the world is your oyster. Or is it your Cookie Ball?  Make sure to print out this coupon before heading out!

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Pumpkin Spice Balls #OREOCookieBalls #CollectiveBias

Ingredients

  • OFFICIAL OREO COOKIE BALL RECIPE
  • 1 pkg (8 oz.) brick cream cheese, softened
  • 36 OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 3 cups)
  • 4 pkg. (4 oz. each) semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
  • Optional:
  • 1/2 Teaspoon pumpkin spice

Instructions

  1. Make it!
  2. MIX cream cheese and cookie crumbs until blended.
  3. If adding pumpkin spice, add at this point.
  4. SHAPE into 48 (1-inch) balls. Freeze 10 min. Dip balls in melted chocolate; place in single layer in shallow waxed paper-lined pan.
  5. CUSTOMIZE it with your own ingredient additions or decorative skills.
  6. REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm.
  7. Share and enjoy!
http://theseasidebaker.com/2014/11/10/pumpkin-spice-balls-oreocookieballs-collectivebias/

Reese’s Spreads Granola Bars #AnySnackPerfect #CollectiveBias

I received compensation and information and/or free product from The Hershey Company and/or Collective Bias. All opinions expressed within are my own.

Reese's Spreads Granola Bars

Lunches this year have been quite the challenge. At the kid’s old school, hot lunch was so inexpensive that it just made sense to have them buy it. Now having moved to private school, hot lunch is catered by a restaurant and charges a whooping $7.00 per lunch!! Needless to say, I now make their lunch every day. The problem is that they get tired of the snacks REALLY quickly! That’s where Reese’s Spreads step in! 

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The basis of their lunch always includes a healthy salad and a piece of fruit, but to make lunches more fun (and to keep them from complaining that they can’t buy lunch) I always include a fun snack. My kids absolutely love the nostalgic flavors of peanut butter, so I was pretty stoked to find the new Reese’s Spreads at Walmart! These Reese’s Spreads Granola Bars are one of their favorite homemade snacks. Reese’s Spreads is a perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter flavors in spreadable form, and makes a flavorful binding ingredient to the recipe!

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Based on the iconic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, new Reese’s Spreads will make snacking even more delicious by adding the unique, one-of-a-kind combination of chocolate and peanut butter flavors to any food, anytime, anywhere.

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If I plan on using the delicious jar for a recipe though, I have to hide it first. Because, from toast to waffles, apples and bananas to pretzels and vanilla wafers, the new spread brings endless opportunities to enjoy the distinct taste that only Reese’s provides.

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Enjoy an authentic Reese’s experience in a new and enticing way!

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Make sure to visit one of the stores here try the new REESE’S Spreads paired with apples the weekend of November 13th – 16th, 2014, and make sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post!

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Reese’s Spread Granola Bars

Reese’s Spread Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (any kind)
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup Reese's Spreads
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x9 inch pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a blender, process 1/3 cup of oats until flour like.
  3. In the bowl of your mixer, combine oats, oat flour, sugar and salt.
  4. Add chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips, and coconut to the blender bowl and mix with oat mixture.
  5. In a separate bowl, melt butter.
  6. Once melted, add peanut butter and Reese’s Spread, vanilla, honey and corn syrup to butter mixture and mix.
  7. Mix wet mixture with dry mixture until completely combined.
  8. Press granola bar mixture into pan and bake for 50 minutes.
  9. Cool completely before slicing.
  10. Slice into 10 bars and drizzle with melted Reese’s Spreads and sprinkle with nuts.
http://theseasidebaker.com/2014/11/07/reeses-spread-granola-bars/

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sweet Potato Pie Swirled Cheesecake with Spiced Salted Caramel

This is a sponsored post brought to you by the NC Sweet Potato Commission. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Sweet Potato Swirled Cheesecake

Forget smothering sweet potatoes in butter and topping with marshmallows, this  Sweet Potato Swirled Cheesecake with Spiced Salted Caramel is a new way to serve sweet potatoes this holiday!

Sweet Potato Swirled Cheesecake Slice

Not overly sweet and creamy beyond belief, your guests will not be able to resist a slice. Combined with a ginger snap cookie crust and topped with a gloriously spiced salted caramel they will be begging for seconds….even after stuffing themselves with turkey!

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Sweet potatoes are chock full of nutrients. Cooked in their skin, sweet potatoes are chock full of Beta Carotene, Vitamins A and C, tons of fiber, Manganese, Complex Carbohydrates, and Antioxidants. They are also extremely low in calories, making this one healthy tater!

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I recently talked in another post about how I hide vegetables in my kids food to ensure that they get their nutrients despite trying to resist eating the vegetables on the plate. Sweet Potato puree is wonderful and healthy addition to Mac and Cheese and spaghetti sauce. Try it…you will be pleasantly surprised!

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Now to the fun part! The Seaside Baker has joined forces with the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. We want to see all of your glorious sweet potato side dishes on Instagram!!!!

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Simply tag your sweet potato dish with @sweet_taters and #sweetsides for your chance to win a Rachel Ray Orange Hard Enamel 14 piece cookware set and some fun sweet potato items! Contest will run from today through December 1st, 2014. Winner will be picked and contacted by the NC Sweet Potato Commission. Make sure to follow them on Instagram for some delicious sweet and savory sweet potato recipes!

Sweet Potato Instagram Contest

Sweet Potato Swirled Cheesecake with Spiced Salted Caramel

Ingredients

    Cheesecake
  • 2 cups finely crushed ginger snap cookies
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato puree
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Salted Caramel
  • 1 packed cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Chopped Pecans for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees if using a dark springform pan and 325 degrees if using a light colored springform pan.
  2. Place rack in the middle of the oven.
  3. Generously spray springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Combine gingersnap crumbs and melted butter and press into bottom and sides of pan.
  5. Place in freezer while preparing the cheesecake filling.
  6. Beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  7. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined.
  8. In a separate bowl, mix together sweet potato puree, spices, and sugar.
  9. Add 1 cup of cheesecake filling to sweet potato mixture and stir to combine.
  10. Remove crust from freezer.
  11. Pour sweet potato mixture into pan and spread carefully.
  12. Pour remaining cheesecake filling over sweet potato mixture.
  13. With a knife, carefully swirl the sweet potato mixture into the cheesecake mixture avoiding touching the crust.
  14. Place cheesecake in center of the oven and bake for 1 hour or until the center is only slightly jiggly.
  15. Once room temperature, chill for at least 4 hours before serving.
  16. To make the caramel sauce heat brown sugar, cream, butter, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium low heat.
  17. Whisk gently for about 5-7 minutes until it has thickened.
  18. Add Vanilla and cook for another 2 minutes.
  19. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes then pour into jar.
  20. Once room temperature, pour over cheesecake before serving and garnish with chopped pecans.
http://theseasidebaker.com/2014/11/03/sweet-potato-cheesecake/

Slow Cooker Apple Cobbler Recipe #ChooseSmart #CollectiveBias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.

Slow Cooker Apple Cobbler

All opinions are mine alone.The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate family and food! With 4 birthdays  each a week a part, and of course Thanksgiving, we always have a lot going on.

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This is why I LOVE Smart & Final. It is a great place to do a one-stop shop of everything from produce to meats. Smart & Final carries warehouse size items without a club fee, making shopping easy, less expensive and less daunting to shop in than a big warehouse store. Smart & Final is a perfect place for you to shop for all your food needs, bakery items, etc. Not to mention they actually open early! I love getting my early morning shopping done before the crowds. It is a great place to get everything you need to create a complete recipe!

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I also love my slow cooker during these busy times. Considering my oven is always pre-occupied with items, slow cooking is a great way to multi-task. With this delicious Slow Cooker Apple Cobbler recipe you can focus on the labor intensive oven and stove recipes. Not to mention, you will have the magnificent aromas of fresh apples and cinnamon cooking. Easy and delicious dessert with a fall scented home, sounds like a double whammy to me!

Crock Pot apple cobbler

Not only is this recipe wonderful because you just throw it in the slow cooker, but it is also a one bowl only preparation. This means less prep and mess and more time enjoying your family and friends.

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I served each piece with a generous scoop of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and some chopped pecans, because let’s face it there is nothing better that a piece of hot fresh apple cobbler and ice cream!

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My kids get giddy over warm desserts and this one did not disappoint! In fact, this is the second time I have made it in the last 12 hours. Warm apple cobbler is certainly a way to their heart!

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For more wonderful recipes and ideas, vista Smart & Final on Facebook and Twitter. Enjoy Friends!

Slow Cooker Apple Cobbler

Yield: Serves 8 large portions

Slow Cooker Apple Cobbler

Ingredients

  • 6 medium sized apples (I used Gala)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/12 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/2 cup oats

Instructions

  1. Peel and remove seeds from apples then thinly slice or chop.
  2. Sprinkle apples with brown sugar and cinnamon and mix to coat all of the apples.
  3. Pour apples into crock pot.
  4. In a large microwave safe bowl, melt butter.
  5. Add flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk with melted butter.
  6. Slowly add milk and mix until almost smooth.
  7. Cover apples with cobbler mixture.
  8. In the same bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats and cold butter and cut (with pastry cutter or two knives) until butter has been coated and are pea size.
  9. Sprinkle oat/sugar mixture over cobbler batter.
  10. Set your crock pot to low and cook for 3 hours. Check the cake every hour after 2 hours as all crock pots are different.
  11. Enjoy warm with a big scoop of ice cream!
http://theseasidebaker.com/2014/11/02/slowcookerapplecobblerrecipe/

Pickled Radish Crostinis

The Seaside Baker has teamed up with Dandy to bring you a healthy Halloween treat. 

Pickled Radish Monster Crostinis

Can you believe that it is almost Halloween? I can’t! Time has seriously flown by. Between class parties and Trick-or-treating, I know that my children will be spending most of Halloween in a sugar rush. This is why I absolutely insist on healthy snacks and a healthy meal before going out. These will be the perfect, festive appetizer on Halloween!

Quick Pickled Radishes

I took these Monster Pickled Radish Crostinis to a Halloween party and the kids and adults loved them. It was extremely easy to pickle the radishes and they took only about 30 minutes from start to finish, with most of that being time for the brine coming to room temperature! Make these ahead of time and throw them in the fridge. They will stay fresh for about a week…if they last that long! I am very excited to be serving them with Raclette (traditional Swiss Cheese Meal) for my husband’s birthday next week.

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Dandy has just released a new line of ready to eat radishes that are ready to eat! You can find them sliced and in ministicks, which are great to throw in a salad or to accompany a dip.

fresh radishes

They also have these pre-washed and ready to eat radishes that are perfect for lunches, because lets face it, the last thing you have time for in the morning is washing and chopping veggies (well at least I don’t). The also have a line of Fresh Cut celery sticks that are perfect to snack on. Again, no preparation required. Just take from the bag and get a snakin!

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I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Halloween!

Pickled Radish Crostinis

Yield: Makes about 15 crostinis.

Pickled Radish Crostinis

Ingredients

    Pickeled Radishes
  • 2 cups Dandy Radishes, sliced finely
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 10 dill sprigs or 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • Crostinis
  • 1 loaf french bread, sliced and toasted
  • 2 avocados mashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small lime
  • Green cocktail olives
  • Fresh Dill

Instructions

  1. Begin by slices radishes finely and tossing with peppercorns, red pepper flakes, and dill.
  2. Place the radishes and spices into a jar.
  3. In a small pot, bring vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, carefully pour liquid into the jar over the radishes.
  5. Cover and bring to room temperature.
  6. Once at room temperature store in the refrigerator.
  7. To make the crostinis, toast bread slices to golden brown.
  8. Mash avocado and add salt, pepper, and lime juice.
  9. Place avocado mixture onto bread and top with two radish slices.
  10. Thinly dice cocktail olives and place for "eyeballs" on to the radish slices.
  11. Add small dill sprigs for monster eye balls.
  12. Serve immediately and enjoy!
http://theseasidebaker.com/2014/10/30/pickled-radish-crostinis/

This is a sponsored post however all opinions are my own.