Category Archives: Cooking & Chefs

Gourmet Grazing on the Green benefits cancer research: enjoy lots of delicious food and wine

Attendees at a previous Grazing on the Green, photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group

The 16th annual Gourmet Grazing on the Green—noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5 at Aptos Village Park—is an always-fun annual celebration with more than 75 vendors including local restaurants, caterers, wineries, breweries, and spirits distilleries. Proceeds benefit the Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group (SCCBG) .

 

Buy $65 tickets at New Leaf Community Markets (downtown, Westside or Capitola locations) or online or pay $70 at the door if it’s not sold out. Adult admission includes food, drinks and a souvenir wineglass. Designated driver tickets are $40 in advance or $50 at the door. Kids 10 and under are free; kids ages 10-20 are $35.

 

Longtime sponsors New Leaf Community Markets, Coke Farms and Watsonville Coast Produce generously donate lots of locally grown produce and products for chefs to create special tastes for event attendees.

 

Participating restaurants, food suppliers, food trucks, and other vendors include:

  • Alterra Solar
  • Ashby Confections
  • Ate3One
  • Back Nine Grill and Bar
  • Brew Dr. Kombucha
  • Café Cruz
  • California Lavash
  • Cantine Winepub
  • Cinnamon Bay Clothing
  • Cruise Coffee
  • Drink La Vie
  • East Side Eatery
  • Efi’s Dutch-indo Kitchen
  • Ella’s at the Airport
  • Fran Battendieri Designs
  • Friend in Cheeses Jam Co
  • Hollins House
  • Hula’s Island Grill
  • Judge Casey’s
  • K Dezynz Jewelry
  • Malone’s Grille Scotts Valley
  • Martinelli’s
  • McKella Jo
  • New Leaf Community Markets
  • Pacific Coffee Roasting Co.
  • Pure Valley Water
  • Sandbar Solar
  • Santa Cruz Fish Co.
  • Shadowbrook Restaurant
  • Smart Chicken
  • SunRidge Farms
  • The Crow’s Nest
  • The Turkey Boat
  • Vital Mystic
  • Watsonville Coast Produce
  • Whole Enchilada
  • Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine

Wineries, breweries and spirits include:

  • Alfaro Family Winery
  • Armitage Wines
  • Bargetto Winery
  • Bonny Doon Vineyard
  • Burrell School Vineyards
  • Carbonic Service
  • Discretion Brewing
  • El Vaquero Winery
  • Hallcrest Vineyards
  • Integrity Wines
  • Kathryn Kennedy Winery
  • Kings Mountain Vineyards
  • Lester Estate Wines
  • Loma Prieta Winery
  • MJA Vineyards
  • Muccigrosso Vineyards
  • Muns Vineyard
  • New Bohemia Brewing Co.
  • Pelican Ranch Winery
  • Roudon-Smith Winery
  • Sailing Shoes Wine
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
  • Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
  • Sante Arcangeli Family Wines
  • Scrumpy Hard Cider
  • Seabright Brewery
  • Sones Winery
  • Soquel Cider
  • Storrs Winery
  • Uncommon Brewers
  • Venus Spirits
  • Via Vega Winery
  • Villa Del Monte Winery
  • Wrights Station Winery

 

Proceeds from SCCBG’s events benefit these local cancer support and research organizations: Hospice of Santa Cruz County, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Association, Katz Cancer Resource Center, researchers from UC Santa Cruz, the Teen Kitchen Project, and WomenCARE Cancer Advocacy.

 

Since 1995, SCCBG has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living with cancer in the Santa Cruz community, by raising money to support beneficiary organizations and fund new research that will provide possible cures and better solutions for treating cancer. Just in the last decade, they have distributed more than $2 million to directly support the Santa Cruz community.

 

For more information on the event, see sccbg.org. Parking is limited at Aptos Village Park. There is free shuttle service every 15 minutes from Cabrillo College (parking lot K); parking is free. If you Uber, dropoff is at the top of the park.

Aptos Village Park: 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos

 

Attendees at a previous Grazing on the Green, photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit Group

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Valentine’s Day gifts for the coffee & breakfast lover

Double Breakfast Sandwich Maker — one of many gift possibilities from Hamilton Beach for Valentine’s Day or any occasion
Photo courtesy of Hamilton Beach

If you’re looking for a special Valentine’s Day gift for someone who takes their home coffee and breakfast making seriously, I got to sample some Hamilton Beach products recently and can tell you about a few. Hamilton Beach products are generally available online at hamiltonbeach.com, Amazon.com and at select retailers.

First, the FlexBrew Coffee Maker, which is a combination of Single Serve and Full Coffee Pot. If you want a full or half pot of coffee, use the traditional glass carafe. If you want a single cup, use the other side of the machine with either K-cups/pods or ground coffee, depending what size cup you’re looking for. It’s very convenient to have all these options; my family has used all three in the few days since we first got the machine. It retails at $89.99 and can be found at the aforementioned places plus Walmart.

Next, the Double Breakfast Sandwich Maker, which allows you to make quick-yet-delicious customizable breakfast to enjoy at home or on the go. You choose your bread and add ingredients like eggs, cheese, precooked meat, avocado, vegetables, etc. If you need sandwich inspiration, there are enticing recipes on the company’s site like Avocado, Egg White & Swiss Cheese Breakfast Sandwich (see below for one more). You can cook two breakfast sandwiches in five minutes or less, and then cleanup is easy because the removable parts are dishwasher-safe. In addition to Hamilton Beach’s site and Amazon, this one’s available at Target. Cost is $39.99.

Last but not least, the Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker — which as of early February was out of stock on the HB site, but is often available at Walmart or Amazon ($39.99). You can change the browning setting depending how light or dark you like your waffles, and because of the “Flip” style, it’s easier to make thick, fluffy waffles like you find at restaurants. There are easily accessible recipes for traditional buttermilk waffles and unusual spin-offs like Tater Tot waffles (yes, ingredients like 40 thawed tater tots play a part in this concoction!).

No matter what you choose to buy your Valentine—or yourself—for the occasion, I hope it’s a happy one for all you foodies and home chefs out there.

Recipe: Cheddar, Apple, Bacon and Egg Croissant Sandwich

Courtesy of Hamilton Beach / From The Hamilton Beach Test Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 mini croissant, halved
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 to 2 thin slices Granny Smith apple
  • 1 slice precooked bacon, cut in half
  • 1 large egg, lightly scrambled

Directions

  1. Preheat Breakfast Sandwich Maker until green PREHEAT light comes on. Lift cover, top ring and cooking plate.
  2. Place bottom half of croissant, cut-side up in bottom ring of Breakfast Sandwich Maker. Top with cheese, apple slices and bacon.
  3. Lower cooking plate and top ring. Add egg to cooking plate.
  4. Top with remaining croissant half, cut-side down.
  5. Close cover. Cook 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Slide out cooking plate by rotating handle clockwise. Lift cover and rings; carefully remove sandwich with plastic spatula.

Serves: 1

Test Kitchen Tip: For a lightly browned croissant top, cook the egg in the top ring without the croissant for 3 to 4 minutes or until egg is just about done. Lift the cover, add the croissant and continue cooking until top is lightly toasted and egg is cooked.

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Last-minute Cuisinart gift ideas for chefs and foodies

Cuisinart released this Air Fryer Toaster Oven in 2017. Photo credit: Cuisinart

Have some last-minute holiday shopping left to do? If any of these gift recipients are amateur chefs or just plain foodies, Cuisinart has a few gift ideas. Retailers that carry some of these selections include Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s, Williams Sonoma and Walmart.

 

First, the Air Fryer Toaster Oven, which was released in 2017. This product is a full-size toaster oven with a built-in air fryer. It bakes, broils, and toasts, AND it allows you to air fry inside the oven. Curious about air frying? This is from Cuisinart’s web site: “Air frying, which uses powerful ultra-hot air, is a healthier way to prepare delicious fried favorites, from wings to fritters to fries to shrimp.” The product’s interior is large enough to “…air fry up to three pounds, toast six slices of bread, or bake a four-pound chicken or 12-inch pizza.” Retail price is $199. See below for a three-ingredient “Airfried S’Mores” recipe. Also visit Cuisinart’s online recipes for more.

 

Cuisinart’s eight-cup food processor, originally released back in 2014, is stainless steel and retails at $99.95. The company kindly sent me a sample—I love the shape and size (different than my previous one, which I used religiously for years!). Also, I appreciate that the parts can go into the dishwasher. The last thing I want to do after spending a bunch of time cooking is then using more time washing dishes by hand!

 

I know that many people have two food processors, so that they can use a smaller one for things like pesto and light chopping needs. If you know someone who cooks a lot, that already has a large processor, I would consider this four-cup chopper/grinder. It’s only $39.95 and it apparently comes with a handy recipe book (I don’t have one personally, so I can’t vouch for the recipes).

 

If you’re looking for bakeware, I’ve found Cuisinart’s line to be highly dependable. Actually, I like using the mini heart pans to make savory dishes as well as sweet ones. I often make egg bakes in a glass baking dish or mini-muffin pans, and then save some of the batter for one of the mini hearts. It’s fun to surprise my 7-year-old daughter with a heart-shaped concoction. My latest was simple, with egg, chicken sausage, onion and a topping of shredded cheese, but it did the trick! I have also used my “easy-grip” non-stick 17-inch baking sheet with silicone grip handles ($23.95) for successful cookies and equally successful sheet pan dinners.

 

Airfried S’Mores Recipe (courtesy of Cuisinart)

Makes 8 servings

 

Ingredients:

16 graham cracker squares

8 squares milk chocolate (about 2 ounces)

8 standard marshmallows

 

  1. Put 8 graham cracker squares on the AirFryer basket. Place a chocolate square in the center of each cracker and top each with a marshmallow.
  2. Put the basket in the upper position. Set to AirFry at 350 degrees F. AirFry for 3 ½ to 4 minutes, or until the marshmallows are lightly toasted.
  3. Carefully remove from the AirFryer and transfer to a plate. Top each with the remaining crackers.

 

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Thanksgiving, Hanukkah at Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz & Capitola

Whole Foods Market’s favorite local wine and cheese pairings for the holidays. Courtesy of WFM.

Thanksgiving is almost here, and after that Hanukkah is right around the corner! Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola (1710 41st Ave.) and Santa Cruz (911 Soquel Ave.) have many Thanksgiving selections and several Hanukkah items, and they graciously gave me a gift card so that I could try a few out.

You can place orders in person or online. Thanksgiving pick up dates are through Nov. 23; Hanukkah pick up is Nov. 30-Dec. 9 and selections include wine-braised brisket dinner for eight, and potato latkes with applesauce. Thanksgiving choices at WFM (see a holiday showcase here) include a classic roast turkey dinner for eight (with optional organic turkey upgrade) with a fully-cooked bird, herb stuffing and mashed potatoes turkey gravy, cranberry orange sauce, and green beans with crispy garlic and parsley; spiral-sliced ham; vegan entrees and sides; traditional holiday sides; and desserts. Prime members get a special deal: through Nov. 22, they get organic whole turkeys for $2.99/lb. and whole turkeys for $1.99/lb.

 

Something new and intriguing is a vegan holiday meal WFM has created in partnership with award-winning chef Jeremy Fox, author of the “On Vegetables” cookbook. The meal includes Romanesco Cauliflower Roast with Miso Bagna Cauda, Cremini Mushroom Stuffing with Kimchi, and Roasted Acorn Squash with Maple and Hazelnut Dukkah. You can also order these selections a la carte.

 

WFM is also offering a special seasonal pie from Lisa Ludwinski, founder of Detroit’s Sister Pie and author of “Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit.” The Cranberry Crumble Pie, Ludwinski’s personal favorite for the season, features an all-butter crust, a sweet cranberry compote filling with juicy whole cranberries, grated pear and warm spices, and an oat crumble topping.

Other Santa Cruz and Capitola store highlights that are perfect for the holidays:

  • Seafood: Fresh, Whole Dungeness Crab
    • Crab season is a Bay Area holiday tradition. Pick up at least three sweet and rich whole crab, and save $1 per pound. WFM’s team of local fishmongers will crack and clean free of charge.
  • Specialty Wine and Cheese: Favorite local wine and cheese pairings this season selected by WFM
    • Bay Blue cheese, a mellow blue made in Point Reyes, paired with Sean Thackery Pleides red blend, a “red berry, tangy crowd pleaser”
    • Carmody cheese paired with Jay Vineyards J California Pinot Noir, a “highly drinkable, soft rich wine”
    • Crisp Roederer Estates Anderson Valley Brut paired with Mt. Tam organic cheese, because the wine “goes lovely with soft, ripened cheeses”
  • Local, Organic Eggnog including:
    • Straus Family Creamery, an organic eggnog finished with nutmeg
    • Clover Sonoma Organic Maple Bourbon Eggnog, a non-alcoholic classic
  • Special holiday dishes by Chef Trent of WFM
    • Creations include Ginger Cinnamon Spice Duck or Turkey breast, and Spiced Prime Rib
    • “Pick up your cut at the meat counter, pop into the oven and you are ready to serve your guests,” shared a WFM spokesperson.
  • Humphry Slocombe’s Coconut Shoyu Ice Creamnew and available for a limited time
    • Top your favorite seasonal pie with a scoop of this ice cream, the fourth exclusive collaboration available exclusively at Whole Foods Market
    • Created by San Francisco-based Humphry Slocombe and Chef Melissa King in partnership with WFM—they made their first collaborative flavor, Hong Kong Milk Tea, in 2017
  • Northern California’s Tsar Nicolai caviar
    • Tsar Nicolai sustainably raises and produces top of the line caviar in Wilton, CA.
    • This year, WFM is partnering with the brand for an exclusive trio bundle deal, available in the Seafood dept.

Local Store Details

Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.

 

For more Whole Foods Market locations, see the store locator.

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Upcoming New Leaf classes include miso, paella, beer, anti-inflammatory cooking

 

Madia Jamgochian and Magali Brecke will host an info session/dinner party at New Leaf Sept. 21

New Leaf Community Markets in Santa Cruz has lots of interesting cooking classes in the near future, including classes on making miso and paella, beer tasting and beginning home brewing with two local breweries, and learning about anti-inflammatory eating. Here are some details; these are all at the Westside Santa Cruz location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306). Preregistration is required at newleaf.com/events.

 

Friday, Sept. 21, 6-8 p.m.

Anti-Inflammatory Info Session & Dinner Party, Cost: $40

With Certified Nutrition Consultant Madia Jamgochian, and Anti-Inflammatory Chef Magali Brecke, Co-Founder and Nutritional Director of Kitchen Witch Bone Broth

You may have heard that inflammation is the root cause of all disease, but did you know that what you eat has a profound effect on feeding or fighting the issue?

This class offers an intro to New Leaf’s 4-Week Anti-Inflammatory Integrative Wellness Series, held during the month of October. Come to this Dinner Party to learn the basics of anti-inflammatory eating, get your questions answered about the upcoming series, and meet past attendees who have benefited from this particular diet and lifestyle.

Class will start with an introduction to “What is inflammation?” and include the topic of Leaky Gut, as well as a breakdown of anti-inflammatory eating. A full anti-inflammatory meal is included.

Tuesday, Sept. 25, 6-7:30 p.m.

Miso Making Workshop, Cost: $35

With Masumi Diaz and Eriko Yokoyama, founders of Hakouya Cooking School. In this class you’ll learn how to make 1.5 lbs. of organic miso to take home. Masumi and Eriko will share different ways to incorporate miso into your everyday diet. Since this is a simple but lengthy process, ingredients will be prepared for you in advance and assembled together in class.

 

Thursday, Sept. 27, 6-8 p.m.

Regional Spanish Cooking: Paella, Cost: $45 or $40 each for two

In this hands-on class, Kristen Valenza will show you how to prepare traditional paella, and pair it with a Spanish red blend. Traditional paella is a mix of spanish rice, vegetables, meat, (like chorizo and sausage) and seafood, (clams, mussels, shrimp) and aromatic spices including parsley and saffron. Wine pairing included.

 

Friday, Sept. 28, 6-8 p.m.

Beer Brewing and Tasting, Cost: $18

Julie Reinhart from Elkhorn Slough Brewing and Emily Thomas from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing will lead you on an evening of beer tasting and beginner home brewing. They’ll go over different beer styles and you’ll get a chance to taste beers from both breweries, along with tasting notes.

 

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Teen Kitchen Project: two brunch dates remain in series, plus new kids’ classes

A scene from TKP’s brunch benefit Sunday, March 25, in Aptos

Teen Kitchen Project has been running a brunch fundraiser series since March. There were two Sundays in March, then they skipped Easter, and now two Sundays remain — April 8 and 15. Entrees rotate each time and have included Huevos Rancheros with rice and beans; orange-zested thick cut French toast with spiced maple syrup; and broccoli cheddar quiche with country style sausage and home fries. There are two seatings each day, 9:30 & 11:30 a.m., and brunch takes place at TKP’s newly renovated teaching kitchen and café at 8061 Aptos St. Cost is $35 for adults and $15 for kids under 12. The TKP teens do the cooking and serving. Entrees include a basket of freshly baked goods at each table, plus coffee, tea and juice. My family and I dined with TKP on March 25, and thoroughly enjoyed the meal–from the delectable scones to scrumptious sausage, Chilaquiles and more! View menus and purchase online at teenkitchenproject.org/brunch.One hundred percent of proceeds benefit TKP.

TKP recently began offering cooking classes for kids ages 8 and up, for $35 each, and they are now expanding to offer a few for kids 5-8. At the first one for “littles” on Monday, April 30, kids will make pizza. “Teen Kitchen Project is excited to open our doors to aspiring chefs ages 5 and up who are interested in learning more about developing their culinary skills,” says founder Angela Farley. “We believe empowering young people with the knowledge and skills to prepare food from scratch is essential to accomplish our goal of building a healthier Santa Cruz County, one meal at a time.”

Topics for the older kids have included burgers, tacos and dumplings. During the 2-hour classes, kids work with other students in groups of two to four. There are also adult chefs and a teen helper present. At the end of class, participants get to eat the food they prepare. Monday and Wednesday classes are at the Aptos location (8061 Aptos St.), and Friday classes are at the Soquel location (2880 Research Park Dr.). Enrollment is limited. Visit the registration page at crm.fundly.com//6708/Pages/Events/#/.

For those unfamiliar with Teen Kitchen Project, executive director Angela Farley launched TKP in 2012 after her son was diagnosed with cancer. Farley decided she wanted to help other families affected by cancer, to at least attempt to decrease some of the pressure and feelings of being overwhelmed. Today, the organization regularly delivers 600-700 free, healthy meals for clients throughout Santa Cruz County who are in crisis due to illness.  Teen volunteers ages 13-18 prepare meals with the assistance of adult volunteers. The teens gain valuable skills as they volunteer. For more info, visit the web site teenkitchenproject.org.

 

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Upcoming New Leaf classes include making sushi

Learn how to make sushi at New Leaf
Photo credit: New Leaf Community Markets

New Leaf Community Markets in Santa Cruz has several upcoming events, including classes on making sushi, learning about Japanese fermented foods, and identifying what foods cause inflammation. Here are some highlights; these are all at the Westside Santa Cruz location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306).

 

Preregistration is required—even for free classes—at newleaf.com/events.

 

Mondays, January 22-February 12, 1-2 p.m.

Boosting Behavior Change 4-Part Series

The free, four-part interactive workshop series, led by licensed psychologist and wellness coach Kimberly Smith-Martinez, will support those wishing to modify their eating habits for goals such as improving health, building muscle or losing weight. The approach presented can also be applied to make lasting changes to other behaviors. Participants will learn about the science behind journaling and how this can support behavior change. By the end of the sessions, participants will “track mind, mouth and muscle” and be prepared to pursue their goals. The classes are on Mondays through Feb. 12.

 

Wednesday, January 24, 6-8 p.m.

Intro to Sushi Making: Part 2

In this hands-on class you’ll make maki rolls (from “maku” which means to wrap or roll), using nori on the outside, brown rice as a base, and other fresh ingredients including salmon and tuna. Attendance in Part 1 not necessary. With Sushi Chef Carlos Mayorga. Cost: $35

 

Thursday, January 25, 6-7:30 p.m.

Traditional Japanese Fermented Foods Series, Class # 1: Amazake

Make amazake (means sweet sake)—a traditional Japanese sweet, nutritious, non-alcoholic drink made with cooked rice or cooked oatmeal and rice Koji. Enjoy as a dessert, snack or natural sweetening agent. Taste different amazake recipes. With Masumi Diaz and Eriko Yokoyama. Two other classes will be offered: Feb 8 and Feb 22. Cost: $35

 

Wednesday, January 31, 6-7 p.m.

How to Read Nutrition Facts and Labels

Join Dr. Danette Sutton and learn how to read and understand food labels and start making healthier choices. Since the FDA announced a new label for packaged foods last year to reflect new scientific information, we will discuss the link between diet and chronic diseases.

Cost: $5

 

Wednesdays, Feb 7-Feb 28, 6-8 p.m.

Anti-Inflammatory Integrative Wellness Series, $56 for drop-in (only a couple of these remain) or $225 for all four classes

You may have heard than inflammation is the root cause of all disease, but did you know that what you eat has a profound effect on feeding or fighting the issue? In this 4-week series, Anti-Inflammatory Chef Magali Brecke and Holistic Nutritionist Madia Jamgochian will lead you through the basics of eliminating inflammation through diet and lifestyle. You will learn how to heal Leaky Gut, reverse autoimmune conditions, and get back on track to vibrant health. The four-class series breaks down as follows:

  • February 7: Intro to Inflammation, Leaky Gut, & Autoimmunity. In this two and a half hour class, Magali and Madia will provide a presentation on how inflammation affects the body, including what foods cause the biggest inflammatory response. Cooking demonstration & meal included.
  • February 14: Elimination Diets: There are quite a few anti-inflammatory diets out there these days. This class will go over how to choose the right elimination diet, and what’s in a name. We will cover the Autoimmune Protocol, (AIP) Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Wahls Protocol, Traditional Foods, and the Paleo diet to help you decide which one is the most realistic and beneficial fit for you. Cooking demonstration & meal included.
  • February 21: Meal Planning for Success! To complete a successful elimination diet, preparation is key. Magali & Madia will go over meal planning a week at a time, demonstrating batch cooking techniques that will make throwing together dinner easy! Cooking demonstration & meal included.
  • February 28: Hands on Cooking. In our last class together, classmates participate in creating an anti-inflammatory recipe from scratch. We will discuss techniques, resources, and do a series review plus Q &A on what you have learned from the class. Full meal included.

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A Cuisinart Christmas: Gift ideas for chefs, bakers, coffee lovers and more

Cuisinart released this automatic cold brew coffee maker in March 2017—a great gift for coffee lovers
Photo credit: Cuisinart

If you have last-minute holiday shopping left to do and you have chefs or bakers on your list—or even just people that appreciate good coffee or an excellent toaster!—here are a few gift ideas from Cuisinart. The items cover a range of budgets, too. Some of the products are brand-new, while others are tried and true. Retailers that carry some of these selections include Target, Kohl’s and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Cuisinart has a new automatic cold brew coffee maker that was released in March, which makes cold brew coffee in far less time than manual coffeemakers. Using “unique spin technology,” Cuisinart promises coffee in as little as 25 minutes in a choice of three flavor strengths. Coffee can be refrigerated in the seven-cup glass carafe for up to two weeks. Retail price is $99.95. The recipe section of Cuisinart’s site includes one for “Creamy Cold Brew Coconut Coffee.”

Another new item—also just released in March—is a Cuisinart “PrepExpress” spiralizer. It’s actually described as a 3-in-1 slicer, shredder AND spiralizer, and can make eating healthier much easier. Uses include wide ribbons or crinkle-cut spirals of fresh zucchini and apples, thin or wide butternut squash or beet ‘spaghetti,’ cucumber slices for salads, and thick or thin shreds of veggies for snacks or fajita fillings. Retail price is $69.95.

I have a stainless steel four-slice Cuisinart toaster at home that I highly recommend. I never imagined how much I’d appreciate having the ability to toast three or four bread slices or frozen waffles at once instead of just two. It sure makes the mornings easier when my husband and I are trying to have a quick breakfast and get ourselves to work and our daughter to school on time! Plus, this toaster has customizable settings for each two-slice section (including food type, like waffle/bread/bagel/English muffin, and a shade scale ranging from 1-7). You can do toast on a darker setting on one side, and a waffle to a medium golden brown on the other.

If you’re looking for baking gifts, Cuisinart has several fun products including a non-stick, dishwasher-safe “Mini Bakeware” line with selections ranging from $5.95-$10.95. I like the mini heart pans (set of 4, $9.95), and Pinterest has a lot of recipes using this type of pan. There are also traditional baking pans like an “easy-grip” non-stick 17-inch baking sheet ($23.95) with silicone grip handles or a non-stick 24-cup mini muffin pan ($15.95).

If you want to browse all of the company’s recipes for inspiration around the holidays or any time of year, here’s the site.

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New Leaf’s December classes include raw holiday desserts, sushi, healthy holidays

Learn how to make Chai Pecan Pie & other raw holiday desserts Dec. 13 at New Leaf
Photo credit: Beth Love

New Leaf Community Markets in Santa Cruz has several events this month, including ones to make “healthy holiday eating” easier. Here are some highlights; these are all at the Westside Santa Cruz location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306). There is also a holiday macaron class on Dec. 20 but it’s already sold out – if you’re interested in that topic, try to sign up early next year!

Preregistration is required—even for the free class—at newleaf.com/events.

 

Tuesday, December 12
Healthy Holidays: Special Diets
, 1-2 p.m.
If you get stressed about what to eat or how to stick to your diet during the holidays, help is here! Gain ideas for managing your gluten-free, dairy-free or anti-inflammatory diet stress-free! Enjoy tastes of featured recipes. With Certified Nutrition Consultant Madia Jamgochian. Free.

Wednesday, December 13
Raw Holiday Desserts
, 6–8:30 p.m.
In this hands-on class, attendees will create four different delicious, healthy, plant-based desserts that everyone can enjoy without guilt! Make Raw Beet Treasure Cake, Apricot Walnut Chews with Cardamom, Chai Pecan Pie and Persimmon Cashew Sorbet. “Mature children” welcome to attend with adult. With Chef Beth Love, author of Tastes Like Love cookbook series. $45.

Thursday, December 14
Intro to Sushi Making
, 6–8 p.m.
Join Sushi Chef Carlos Mayorga and learn how to properly assemble your own rolls from scratch and discover your own style! Learn technique, tradition, prep and how to plate your finished masterpieces. Come hungry. $25.

 

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Dads & Grads gifts: Gilroy Premium Outlets, Santa Cruz restaurants & cookies

Selections from Le Creuset at Gilroy Premium Outlets. Photo credit: Le Creuset

Waited ‘til the last minute to buy the dad or grad in your life a gift for this weekend? If they like to cook or are a candy fan, see below for a few gift ideas at Gilroy Premium Outlets. Remember that the outlets feature nearly 150 stores, incorporating a range of tastes. For the dad not particularly interested in food, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th has a great selection of clothing and ties, plus designer sunglasses and wallets. And Bose is a good option for the dad that loves music or television.

Outlet hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.

 

Also, if you are shopping for a Santa Cruz foodie or are interested in purchasing a gift with a Santa Cruz theme, see end of article for more ideas.

Gilroy Outlets Food and Cooking Gift Ideas

    • Gift possibilities include grilling skillets, tongs, basting brushes and panini sets for Dad
    • Personalized gift boxes for dads and grads
    • Unique flavors including draft beer
    • Kitchen gadgets, cutlery, small appliances, BBQ accessories

 

Gilroy Outlets restaurants or cafes to purchase gift cards

  • Erik’s Deli Café
  • Starbucks

 

For refreshments while shopping, in addition to the aforementioned Starbucks and Erik’s Deli (the Sandwiches with Character at the latter are always popular), three options are:

  • All Natural Carts  (fresh fruit parfaits you can eat on the go)
  • Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
  • Gilroy Market Place (specialty coffees, pizza, garlic fries, sandwiches and more)

 

Santa Cruz Gifts/Gift Cards

Lots of folks appreciate restaurant gift cards; one idea is a card from The Glass Jar, which owns Assembly, The Picnic Basket and The Penny Ice Creamery. Purchase a card at any of these three, and your recipient can choose which venue to redeem it at. Same with Soif and La Posta, you can purchase gift cards at either restaurant, and they are good at both.

 

Last but not least, Pacific Cookie Company has options if you want to mail a gift. These include what they refer to as “dad-inspired cookie gifts” like Executive Sweet Pack (15 cookies, currently on sale for $23.50 from $26.50). Graduation-themed gifts include Congratulations Cookie Gift Tower (a dozen cookies, $21.95).

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