Lemonade from Picnics to Parties

Making Lemonade is so easy! Follow these simple directions for cool refreshment for hot summer days. From Picnics to Parties you’ll  be glad you made it yourself and you’ll save money, too.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 lemons
1 lime
Additional water and ice

Place sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir to dissolve – about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Cut lemons and lime in half. Slice one half of a lemon and one half of a lime into thin slices to add to the lemonade for garnish. Juice the remaining fruit into a cup, over a strainer to catch the seeds. Pour juice, fruit slices and sugar syrup into a large pitcher. Add water and ice to taste.

For Party Lemonade add raspberries, orange slices and fresh basil leaves.

Watch video of TV presentation on Sacramento & Co.

Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia


Octopus with Potatoes

As a “welcome home” dinner, my sister-in-law Barbara, surprised me with one of my favorite dishes, Octopus!

Octopus, a seafood similar to squid (calamari), is not a familiar food to everyone, but it is very common in our Mediterranean cuisine. We love it because it tastes wonderful, it is low in calorie, it is also a good source of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and Omega-3 fatty acids!

We commonly eat it with boiled potatoes, either hot of cold. This is the hot version.

I believe this dish is best enjoyed if eaten while having a view like this!


1 octopus (about one pound) cleaned

4 potatoes, peeled

3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

3 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 peppercorn

2 tablespoons olive oil



Place all ingredients in a pressure cooker add enough water to almost submerge octopus, cook for 30 minutes. Place in serving dish and enjoy!

PS: some people like eating the outside shin, but I prefer it skinless.

Buon appetito!
Cook with your heart! Rima

Cherry Focaccia

My Cherry Grower Girlfriends asked me to re-post this recipe for Cherry Focaccia.
It uses fresh cherries and is delicious – warm from the oven it tastes like rich pastry with fresh cherry jam!
Prepare the Focaccia dough as directed on one package of 5 Minute Focaccia Mix – Original Flavor. When dough has risen, place into a baking pan with 4 Tbs melted butter. Flip to coat both sides with butter. Let rise again for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile preheat oven to 425*F. Place pitted cherries into focaccia in even rows. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

Portobello Mushroom Tower

Last week I tweeted about my family’s new Summer Tradition: Buonissma Salad on Wednesday Nights. Check out the recipe on page 80 of our cookbook –
Cooking Dinner…and follow us on twitter: @cookingdinner for other menu ideas.
Use leftover dressing to bake Portobello Mushrooms. Place 6 to 8 large mushroom caps – face up – in a 9×13 in glass baking dish. Pour leftover dressing, about 1/2 cup evenly over mushrooms and bake at 325*F. for 15 minutes. Layer with caramelized onions, pesto, cheese, grilled zucchini and tomato sauce. Return to the oven to melt the cheese.  Keep all veggie or add cooked chicken or tri-tip or  sausage for a hearty meal. As usual, when I am cooking, the combinations are endless depending on what’s in the refrigerator!
Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

Garden Fair Chocolate Cherries

Simple to make Chocolate Cherries are a special treat. Pit each cherry, leaving the stem on. Wipe with a paper towel and dip into melted white or dark chocolate. Be sure to cover the hole. Place on parchment paper. Can be made a day ahead.
Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

Garden Fair Candied Walnuts

A Big Thank You to Lynette Zeiter for sharing this recipe and to Carol, Carol and Maggie for preparing 10 pounds of candied walnuts for the Children’s Home of Stockton, Ladies Auxiliary 2012 Valley Garden Fair.
Candied Walnuts
: Beat 2 egg whites until foamy. Stir in 2 pounds of shelled walnut halves, tossing to coat evenly. In a medium bowl mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves and 1 tsp nutmeg. Sprinkle over walnuts and toss to coat evenly. Divide walnuts onto 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Spread them out so they do not touch. Bake in a 200*F. oven for 3 hours, turning once halfway through.
Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

Arugula Salad with *Bresaola, Fennel, and Tangerine Wedges

Sunday I had the pleasure of being invited back to do several cooking demonstrations at the very successful Saint Mary’s Olive Oil Festival. I like to mix things up so I invited my good friend and great cook Marianne to be the guest chef of the occasion. The deal was that she could make anything she wanted as long as California Extra Virgin Olive Oil was one of the main ingredients of the dish. As expected her choice was fantastic! This delicious salad can be enjoyed as an appetizer, a light summer meal, or as passed hors d’oeuvres.


For the Salad:

4 large handfuls Arugula

4 oz Bresaola, sliced paper thin, almost translucent

1-2 bulbs Fennel, sliced thin, (I use a mandolin)

1/4 red onion, sliced thin, (I use a mandolin) – If onions are strong, I soak them in a little ice water with lemon and pinch of salt

3-4 Oranges or Tangerines ( cut into segments removing all white pith)

For the dressing:

Juice of 1 Lemon

4 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Lay Bresaola around a large serving plate. Place Arugula in center, in a mound. In a small bowl mix dressing ingredients.
In a medium bowl, toss sliced fennel, red onion, and orange/tangerine wedges. Add dressing. Taste for seasoning. Spoon mixture on top of Arugula. Drizzle remaining dressing on top of plate of Bresaola (or if not any dressing left, olive oil is perfect to drizzle too.) Serve immediately.
During winter months, blood oranges are not only a delicious option, but they are beautiful too. In summer, yellow peaches may be used instead of oranges.
*Bresaola is a dry, salt cured beef from Italy. It is similar to Prosciutto, but much leaner. It is also nice served on its own, placed on a single layer on plate drizzled lightly with olive oil and and a little lemon juice.

Buon appetito.

Cook with your heart! (and make sure you use California Extra Virgin Olive Oil!!)   Rima

Mexican Pizza Bread

Use our 5 Minute Focaccia Pizza Dough Mix or Original 5 Minute Focaccia Mix. Prepare dough following package directions. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil into a 9×12″ baking pan. Spread risen dough into pan. Bake in a preheated 450*F. oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cover evenly with salsa and shredded mexican cheese mixture. Return to oven and bake for 8 minutes more.
Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia


Derby Day Pulled Pork Sliders

Celebrate The Kentucky Derby with a party. If your event is planned for the evening – record the race and show it when your guests arrive. My menu includes Mint Juleps, Grilled Prawns, Sweet Potato Fries and Derby Day Pulled Pork Sliders. Tell everyone to wear a festive hat. You can even play your own horse race game with dice and stick ponies.
I found this slow cooker idea online. Cut 2 small pork tenderloins in half and sprinkle with sea salt. Place in a slow cooker along with the contents of 1 can of root beer. Cover and cook on low for at least 7 hours. Remove meat to a cutting board and pull apart with 2 forks. Transfer to a large bowl and mix with 2 cups of your favorite barbeque sauce…Or, for my special Derby Day Sauce: Combine  1/4 cup Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey with 2 cups of your favorite barbeque sauce in a saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes over low-med heat, then mix with the pulled pork.  Serve with caramelized onions.

Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia

Mini Rolls

Make your own Mini Rolls with our Five Minute Focaccia Pizza Dough Mix. Follow directions to prepare the dough. After it has risen, pinch off some a little more than the size of a golf ball. Roll into a nice ball and place in a greased muffin cup. Continue with remaining dough. Bake at 425*F. for 8 to 10 minutes.
Or, use our Original or Rosemary Five Minute Focaccia Mix and add 2 Tbs of olive oil when mixing. Allow to rise and continue as above.

Cook, Eat, Laugh…Claudia