California’s Carmel Valley lies just inland from Carmel-by-the-Sea but feels worlds away. The weather in the valley is perfection and the rolling hills and vineyards have a Napa Valley feel with the benefit of an ocean breeze from the coast line that is just a few short miles away. It’s absolutely beautiful. So, when I received a press invitation for an overnight visit to tour Carmel Valley’s Holman Ranch, I grabbed the husband headed out.
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect as we drove up a winding hill, through a large gate with beautiful horse stables just off the road. There were vineyards dotting the hills and blue skies above.
Holman Ranch has a rich history dating back to 1928. The property is several hundred acres in size and houses vineyards, a tasting room, horse facilities, an olive grove, overnight guest rooms and a classic Spanish-Style hacienda. The grounds are impeccable and very well appointed, yet it has a wonderful rustic vibe. It provides a unique and stunning setting for private events.
We were running late and pulled up as the property tour was beginning but were promptly handed a glass of Holman Ranch Sauvignon Blanc to get us through the tour. My kind of Ranch! My immediate reaction was: what a fun place to throw a birthday bash with friends for a lazy, secluded weekend celebration…
The tour was led by Nick Lowder, one of the current owners and operators of the property. He and his wife Hunter were so friendly and welcoming. They taught us about the property and made us feel right at home. It was immediately clear that they have gladly taken on the painstaking process of maintaining the integrity of the initial design and enriching its beauty. We wandered around the property, soaking in the history, and ended up on perfectly maintained greens overlooking the Valley, an absolutely ideal location for a wedding celebration.
In 2006, they started a redesign with the help of Architect, Paul David, Jr , Contractors, Stocker and Allaire and Interior Designer, Howard Tutwiler. I was intrigued with the Carmel Limestone prominently used throughout the grounds. Carmel Limestone looks very similar to Texas Limestone but, as the name implies, is local to the area. In fact, the Carmel Limestone used at Holman ranch was quarried locally from the property itself.
After the tour we sat down for a family style meal outside and under the cascading grape vine trellis. They served Holman Ranch wines and food prepared by Wild Thyme Deli and Catering. The meal, the Holman Ranch wine and the company of other bloggers, writers and press was festive and inspiring. Thank you for the lovely evening Nick and Hunter, it was such a perfect visit.
Chef/Owner Terry Teplitzky of the Wild Thyme Deli and Catering Company, who hosts most of Holman Ranch events, was kind enough to provide a recipe from the evening for me to share with you. I hope you enjoy cooking the recipe as much as we enjoyed eating it.
A light version of the recipe from the Basque region of France, we use it on a juicy roast chicken, but it is equally at home on a seared fish filet or an omelet.
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, cleaned, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 medium garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 4 medium red, yellow, and/or orange bell peppers, washed, cut the top and bottoms off, sliced the pepper and clean out the seeds and membrane. Slice the pepper in to ¼ inch strips
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium dried bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
- Kosher salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
- Chiffonade of fresh basil
In a heavy bottomed pot heat the oil , then add the onions , garlic, peppers, and bay leaf turn the heat down and stir. You want the mixture to cook but not get any color, so keep stirring as needed and keep watch on the flame. After 20 minutes the onions should be translucent and the peppers very tender, almost melty. Add fresh thyme and parsley, cook five minutes more. Take off the heat, remove the bay leaf, and add salt and pepper to taste. Can be served hot or cold.
Spoon the Piperade on the chicken and garnish with the basil.
One last idea for a quick appetizer, spoon on crostini, top with basil, prosciutto, and some shaved asiago or parmesan.
Summer foods are all about keeping it simple. I’ve been enjoying making this strawberry salad for family and friends and it’s a big hit. It really could not be easier to prepare.
6 cups fresh sliced organic strawberries
1 bunch of fresh mint
2 tablespoons of confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
Wash and slice fruit. Place into serving bowl.
Chop fresh mint into thin slices.
Dust salad with sifted Confectioner’s sugar before serving.
My family and I decided to reset our health to start 2013. The challenge, of course, is having the healthy stuff be fast and easy. This has been my “go to” dish and I just can’t get enough of it!
The hardest part about eating fresh is how much food you have to buy and prep. This dish takes a little preparation but once the chicken is cooked, you’re good to go for 2-4 days after. It hits the spot!
Kale & Spinach Chicken Salad with Hummus
2-4 tablespoons humus (my favorite is Whole Foods Lemon Hummus)
2-4 leafs of dinosaur kale
1 cup spinach
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon fresh lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
1. Prepare our Father’s Day Grilled Chicken, set aside, and store remaining chicken.
2. Chop kale & spinach into thin slices
3. Whisk together fresh squeezed lemon, olive oil, seasoned rice vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Toss kale, sesame seeds and top with Whole Foods Lemon Hummus and Chicken.
A friend of mine has made this amazing Spinach Dip for years and I always make her bring it over for casual parties. It’s perfect for a lazy New Years Day, watching football. Knorr actually has a similar recipe on their website but I prefer my friend’s recipe… It does not use onions, is low fat (believe it or not), and tastes better.
1 Sourdough Round
1 package frozen spinach drained and defrosted
1 cup Light Mayonnaise
1 cup Light Sour Cream
1/2 Package Knorr vegetable soup mix
8 oz Sliced Water Chestnuts
Defrost and drain spinach
Slice off the top of the sourdough bread. Cut the bread out of the round making a bowl. Cut the bread chunks into pieces for dipping.
Mix together the spinach, light Mayonnaise, light Sour Cream, Vegetable Soup Mix and Water Chestnuts.
Fill the bread bowl with the Dip and serve.
photo sourced here
It’s a little bit embarrassing how many cans I need to open up to make my Turkey Chili, but I still love this recipe because it’s really nice to be able to whip out a hearty, low fat homemade meal with almost all items I have in my pantry or freezer ready to go. Enjoy!
1 green bell pepper
1/2 sweet yellow onion
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
4.5 oz can of chopped green chiles
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 15 oz can cannellini (white kidney beans)
1 15 oz can pinto beans
20 ounces lean ground turkey
3 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
sea salt & pepper to taste
scallions, sour cream & shredded cheese (all optional to garnish)
-In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the chopped onion, green bell pepper and crushed garlic over medium heat for 10 minutes, until onions are translucent, then transfer all ingredients to crock pot.
-Add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil to the large skillet pan, add ground turkey and brown on medium high. Drain Fat.
-Stir in tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, sea salt & pepper to taste, bring to boil then transfer to crock pot.
-Add can of chopped green chiles to crock pot.-Add can of diced tomatoes and beans (drained) to crock pot, stirring everything together.
-Cook on low 4-6 hours. (I’ve done 2 in a pinch).
-Garnish chili with chopped scallions, sour cream and shredded cheese before serving.
OK, so we all fall off the healthy wagon sometimes and I feel like I’m holding on by a thread these days. It was time to regroup! I kicked off my healthy re-start with a visit to my friend Portia this morning and some tips from Stevan Krstic.
Stevan is a friend of the family and founder + owner of Koi, a hardcore but thoughtful Bay Area boot camp style workout community that truly brings results.
I enlisted Stevan because I know the guy likes to drink wine, eat cheese and to dine at all of the fabulous Bay Area restaurants as much as I do… but he is able to thread it all into a healthy lifestyle.
Stevan was kind enough to share a “go to recipe” which is healthy but… I was so relieved… easy to make and something actually enjoyable to eat!
For cecyj.com readers or first time boot campers, Koi is taking 15% (Promo Code CECYJ15) off the regular price for boot camp and Outdoor Personal Training packages. In addition, you can always try out the program for a trial week either at the beginning or end of each session.
Thank you to everyone over at Koi and a very special thanks to Stevan.
Salmon with Seasonal Green Vegetables + CHEESE (serves 1) Ingredients: salmon steak or fillet seasonal vegetables olive oil sea salt 1 fresh garlic clove anchovy paste Kunik, Epoisses OR Langre cheese (let the cheese sit at room temperature before serving) Salmon Cooking Instructions: 1. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes 2. Coat the salmon with olive oil. Place the salmon in skillet, increase heat to high and cook for 2-3 minutes. Note: For well- done salmon cook for 5 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily Vegetable Cooking Instructions: 1. Cut seasonal vegetables of choice (farmers market vegetables are the best way find fresh + seasonal) rinse and boil in water for a few minutes until soft 2. Place vegetables in a medium skillet with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of anchovy paste, 1 clove of garlic sliced thin 3. Stir occasionally adding 1-2 pinches of salt over 4-6 minutes 4.Combine cooked salmon, vegetables and sliced CHEESE
We will be making fresh squeezed lemonade this weekend and trying to stretch as much out of summer as possible… poolside.
Here is my recipe for fresh lemonade. Nothing fancy, just fresh & yummy. The kiddos love to help!
I hope you have a perfect weekend with your family and friends.
Ingredients 1 cups sugar 1 cup hot water 3 fresh squeezed lemons 1 gallon cold water Prep In a larger pitcher add sugar and hot water. Stir until sugar dissolves. Squeeze the 3 fresh lemons into the pitcher and add cold water. Stir until well mixed. Pour & enjoy.
How pretty is this patriotic cake my sister made for the 4th of July last year? The recipe is from Barefoot Contessa whose recipes are usually pretty easy to make and always delicious. You can find the recipe for the Flag cake on Food Network HERE.
I will be taking the rest of this week off to be with my family and friends. Have a safe 4th of July holiday with your loved ones.