The Inspired Plate | November | A Casual Holiday Breakfast

Welcome to The Inspired Plate. It's the Holidays and we're shooting special foods styled in a holiday setting! I chose breakfast because the aroma of the apples and spices lingering in my house with this granola preparation always puts me in the mood for music, baking and hot tea! I can't believe another year has gone by! Starting January, we'll be celebrating 3 years with The Inspired Plate. So if you're a professional photographer with a niche for food.. definitely email us and let us know! Or visit us at our Facebook Page and leave us a comment!

Casual breakfasts are the key to a stress free day here in our household, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. At least once a week I make a big batch of this granola. This is an adapted recipe that my mom happened to get from one of the cooks at our church's, (Calvary Chapel) Retreat Center here in our local San Bernardino Mountains.

What I love about this granola is the ease of changing the flavor with just a different combination of fruits, nuts and spices. My husband and I like ours with plain greek yogurt and fruit, while the kids prefer there's with milk.. and sometimes as a snack in a baggie for their lunches. This shoot was photographed using a wonderful cranberry sauce, "Crushing Cranberry" that my friend Cheryl made. She made around 200 jars for our church's Christmas Boutique. The best Cranberry Sauce with the essence of orange I've ever had!

Here is the simple granola recipe.. and please don't forget to make your way over to see the rest of the gals' festive food fare! Next up is my dear friend Kim Kelly, San Diego Food Photographer. Her amazing recipes never disappoint!

Laurie's Homemade Granola
Adapted from CC Conference Center Twin Peaks Kitchen
1 Cup Almonds
1 Cup Shredded Coconut
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves
1/2 tsp. Fresh Grated Nutmeg
6 Cups Old Fashion Oats (not quick oats)
**Chopped Apples
1 Cup Honey
3/4 Cups Salad Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, combine almonds, coconut, cinnamon and oats. Mix well.
In a small saucepan, heat honey and oil to simmer, add to the oats mixture
stirring to mix. Divide between two 9x13 or so, baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Add chopped apples, stir. Bake an additional 10 minutes. When granola is cool, store in sealed containers.

** For this Holiday Granola; I made it with the slivered almonds, chopped apples, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Perfect for our breakfast celebration! But I often substitute *soaked raisins or dried cranberries with a variety of nuts and spices.

* For soaked raisins; Put your raisins in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them steep for 5-10 minutes or over night, and then drain them thoroughly. 

Seasonal | The Inspired Plate | Strawberries and Cream

Seasonal was this months challenge for The Inspired Plate team, I wasn't going to participate this month, and actually am a day late, but my sweet girlfriends from TIP linked me in anyway! LOVE them!!! We had a seasonal lunch treat yesterday for my kids.. Strawberries fresh from the garden!

The TIP gals cooked and baked up some delicious treats for your eye pleasure.. please make your way over to check out their gorgeous photos! My friend Kat Clark ALWAYS has something delicious cooking up.. her family is totally blessed!! :)

Strawberries and Cream

Fresh Strawberries
Whole Cream
1/2 tsp. Sugar (as needed) I use NuStevia 

Clean and slice strawberries.
Add cream.. start with a 1/4 cup. Add more if you like it saucy! :)
Add sugar if needed. The cream has a naturally sweet taste so you don't need much at all. 

Laurie xo

Tropical Frozen Julius

This yummy Summer treat is a cross between an Orange Julius and a Frozen Tropical Fruit and Banana Icy. Both are delicious, and both are something I make regularly during the heat of the summer for my family. One is fat free, and the other has a tad bit of fat by way of the addition of milk. Either way, you can't lose with bags of frozen fruit on hand and a food processor!

DMC Ingredients
1 Bag Frozen Pineapple
1 Bag Frozen Mango's
4 Tbsp. Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
2 Bananas, frozen or not
1 Cup Low Fat Milk (or Kefir which I use)
*If needed, 1 packet NuStevia or honey to taste
*Frosted Mugs

In a food processor blend all ingredients adding the milk a little at a time to get a consistency like ice cream. When ready, dollop in ice cream glasses or frosty mugs.. and enjoy!!

This should provide 4 servings :)

The Inspired Plate | March Challenge | Breakfast

This month The Inspired Plate is celebrating our monthly challenge with "Breakfast".
I know this looks like a simple breakfast.. with not too many ingredients, but I so often eat alone
in the mornings after the kids have all gone to school and this for me is quick and satisfying. A soft cooked egg, thinly sliced and buttered sourdough toast.. perfect for dipping, and a cup of tea. 

A few of the gals added a challenge element to their photos, Morning Sunlight. The top photo was shot early in the day with my place setting in front of the light source. Creating a "Backlit" effect. I love the warm glow it gives and you can almost see a faint outline of the trees in my backyard.

I had so much fun shopping for props this month. Spring is definitely in the air and all the beautiful hues of yellow, pink and lavender set the tone for this place setting beautifully. I LOVE this tea cup and saucer. And this egg cup.. so adorable! Right before Easter isn't really the best time to be looking for egg cups. I scoured the antique market and probably spent 3 hours perusing the aisles to find one that would match this lovely tea set. But, I have an idea that many hostesses thinking of serving soft cooked eggs on Easter.. and throughout Spring, was a very good idea!

My garden is in bloom with a variety of lavender plants and daisies. I just love this pop of color streaming through my kitchen and family room windows!

Soft Boiled Eggs are easy to cook. Take out your eggs ahead of time and allow them to come to room temperature. This will prevent them from cracking when you put them into the water. Boil water in a small saucepan. Make sure you have at least 3/4 of the pan filled. Bring to a rolling boil. Lower temperature to medium high, carefully place eggs in water. Allow them to come back to a soft boil. (not simmer) Cook exactly for 4 minutes for firm whites and a soft yolk. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy with your favorite toast! I drizzle my sourdough toast with honey. yum. I love the salty savory taste with the sweetness of a little honey! :)

Please be sure to head on over to Stacey Siegal | Bradenton FL Food Photographer. I am sure she will have some beautiful and scrumptious photos and recipes to share! My lucky friend sits pretty on the warm beaches of Bradenton and rocks her camera! She is SO talented and it is a privilege having her join us for a second year!

Ciao and Buon Appetito!

An Open Face Sandwich DMC Style

My favorite way to eat a snack.. :)

French bread drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
Sliced Roma Tomatoes
Buffalo Mozzarella
Dried Oregano
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Sea Salt (to taste)
Fresh Basil chiffonaud
Extra basil to top after broiled

I first toast the bread on one side in the broiler at 500 degrees.. for just around 30 seconds to get crisp and golden. ** Watch CAREFULLY!!

Top the un-toasted side with the above ingredients in the order listed. Place back in broiler keeping a CLOSE watch on it. (I keep the oven door ajar) Broil just for around 1-2 minutes or till the cheese is melted and golden. Buffalo Mozzarella is so soft it melts quickly.

Enjoy from my kitchen to yours!

The Inspired Plate | February | Eggs

Welcome to The Inspired Plate’s February edition of our monthly food photography challenge. Today we are celebrating the “Egg”.  This was a last minute photo shoot for me and I needed to make something quick! With the cold weather we have been experiencing ‘Egg Flower Soup’ sounded like the perfect choice! Although.. I really wasn’t pleased with the lack of “egg lustre”. Eggs really are the prettiest subject matter and I had to at least offer a photo in it’s traditional form. So, a Sunday afternoon brunch dish of ‘Eggs with Andouille Sausage and Fried Potatoes’ made a quick appearance on my photo table too. 

The recipe for the Egg Flower Soup is as simple as a few cups of chicken broth and stirred up eggs. It goes as follows;


4 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Tsp. White peppercorns finely milled
1 Tsp. Freshly grated ginger, or ground dried ginger
2 Tbs. Corn starch plus water to make a thin slurry
2 eggs well beaten with 2 teaspoons of water
2-3 green onions sliced
(Sea Salt if needed)
Chow-Mein Noodles

Heat 4 cups of chicken broth. Meanwhile, clean and slice green onions and set aside.
Make the cornstarch slurry by adding a few teaspoons of water the cornstarch. Set aside. Add pepper and ginger. Stir till simmering. Add the cornstarch slurry and stir till it thickens a bit. Let come to a gentle simmer and then turn the heat off.
Give the eggs and water another quick whip.. Take soup pot off of the heat. While stirring the soup around, slowly add the egg mixture in a thin stream. The egg will cook in thin shreds. Mix in your green onions and top with chow-mien noodles. Enjoy!! :)

I hope you enjoy our challenge round this month. I am so excited to see what the rest of the gals are sharing today. I'm also excited to share with you, my friend Jayme Franklin | Family Portrait and Film Photographer, has come to join our team. I first met Jayme a few years ago when we shared in a few other personal photo projects. I am SO glad that she has finally taken the foodie plunge!!! Welcome Jayme! xoxo

Now make sure you head on over to my Southern California comadre (girl-friend), Kim Kelly | San Diego Photographer and Writer!! If I haven't told you before, I LOVE this gal and she is an amazing cook, travel and food writer as well as photographer! Please leave her a sweet note, and then make your way through the Inspired Plate Circle!

And here is our Cajun style Sunday Brunch with spicy Andouille Sausage, Fried White Rose Potatoes and Eggs Sunny Side Up! 

Laurie V.

Through the Bible in Food Photography | January | Southern California Food Photographer

Through the Bible in Food Photography

The idea for this project came to me last year while reading through the gospel of Luke in the Bible. "Jesus our Savior, after being raised from the dead came to His disciples, flesh and blood, and ate". The meal served Him was a fish and a honeycomb

In my mind I couldn't help but think what a beautiful portrayal this was.. what a beautiful photograph this would be! It was then that I knew I wanted my food photography to take on a more personal message. That message is the Word of God in my life on a daily basis. One of the ways I commit to that is through a reading program where I read with the intention of completing the bible in a whole year. Yep.. it can be done! I started doing this 15 years ago. I wish I could say that I have repeated it every year.. but when I have, it has been SO worth it and I gain new perspective, and a closer relationship with the Lord. There are times when I will have read a verse and think, "wow.. I never saw that before", or didn't quite know how to apply it to my life at the time. It's no coincidence the power that scripture has over our lives and our minds... "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

So this is my new personal photography journey, to style and shoot a monthly image of food or a meal, portrayed in scripture as I read through the bible in a year. "Sound fun"? I am SO excited and really looking forward to this challenge each month!!

January.. a new start and such fun stories in the book of Genesis to read. Really!! Who needs TV or Soap Operas! This Red Lentil Stew photo comes from a story where there's brotherly rivalry, a mom who prefers one child over the other, and the dad likewise prefers the other! Huge, HUGE wealth and property, an inheritance to divide, and a plan to devise. Phew!! And then.. for a bowl of lentils one brother gives it all away just to satisfy his flesh in the moment! Ok.. so maybe he DID think he was going to die from hunger. HAH! You can read about it here on the One Year Bible web site.

The Inspired Plate Monthly Challenge | January | Healthy

Welcome to The Inspired Plate January challenge. This month our theme is "Healthy". Whew!! I have total baking and heavy food fare burnout. It has been so refreshing cooking on the lighter side with a New Years resolution I am trying to commit to.

With our cool weather I have still been craving dishes on the warmer side, so using Pinterest as a design tool, I pinned salad ideas, fruits and hearty vegetables that looked pretty and would handle my grill pan. (one of my favorite cast iron beauties) And this is what we created! One of my favorite DMC recipes is the toast and crouton embellishments. It is a fantastical way to add "bling" to a simple salad. Your guests won't be able to figure out why your simple looking salad tastes like a gourmet epicurean delight! Check out my "Olive and Anchovy" Crouton on this salad here!

I'm going to tell you a secret that I follow for these TIP challenges. I first choose my props and colors. I set the stage a few times before I actually cook any of the food, and then I photograph my prop table with empty dishes and plates using all sorts of different angles. For this shoot I changed dishes, bowls and napkins.. even my prop boards three times before I was happy with my decision. Then I decide on my recipe. I create my recipe around my shoot for these challenges. That won't be the case if you are shooting commercially or an editorial piece. Usually the food and recipe articles are pre-planned a year in advance by the publication or the vendor who hired you. Stay tuned throughout the year, one of our challenges will be a food vendor shoot. :)

My DMC recipe.. I couldn't have enjoyed a salad better than this one! It was so delicious and healthy! Hope you try it.. you'll LOVE it! And make sure you top some of the toast with the pear, chevre cheese and walnuts. It is SOOO good!

The DMC "Grilled Sweet & Savory Salad"

Small head of Green Leaf lettuce cleaned and dried
Small head of Radicchio cleaned and dried
2 medium firm Bosc Pears cut into quarters brushed lightly with olive oil
1 Baguette sliced
4 Tbs. Red Current Port Jam
Olive Oil
2 cups Baby Brussel Sprouts cleaned and outer leaves removed and cut in 1/2
1/2 cup Walnuts
Chevre Goat Cheese; log or crumbles
Italian Parsley cleaned and dried
Balsamic Glaze

Preheat oven to 450˚.
Mix 4 Tbs. of Red Current Port Jam with 5 Tbs. of olive oil together in a bowl. Brush baguette slices with oil and jam dressing on both sides. *Reserve remainder of dressing. Place bread slices on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, till golden. Oven temperatures vary. Keep an eye on them so they don't over bake.

In a cast iron pan heat up 2 tsp. olive oil. Add the brussel sprout halves and a few dashes of salt. Add 1 tsp. of butter and saute turning often till sprouts are browned and begin to get tender. Add walnuts and continue tossing so the walnuts don't burn. After a minute or two, take the brussel sprouts and walnuts off the heat and set a side.

On a preheated grill pan.. or any skillet if you don't have a grill, place pears cut side down pressing firmly for a few seconds to get grill lines. Let cook for two minutes and turn to the other sliced side of pear. Repeat until pear is tender but still has a nice bite. (not too soft) Set a side.

Time to arrange your salad!

With the remainder Red Current Port Jam and Olive oil, add a few tsp. of Balsamic glaze and stir to mix.

In any fashion, tear apart your lettuce and radicchio in a salad bowl. Arrange the toasts, pears, brussel sprouts, walnuts, parsley and chevre cheese. Drizzle a small amount of the dressing over the salad. Enjoy!

I served my healthy salad with a healthy glass of apple juice. Healthy you ask, isn't all apple juice healthy?? :)  Simple 1/2 water and 1/2 apple juice makes for a much less sugary drink. We have been serving apple juice to our 4 kids like this FOREVER!

Apple Juice and Water.. 1/2 and 1/2

I am so glad you visit us here at The Inspired Plate month to month.
We have a great line up of gals and I can't wait to see what "Healthy" delicacies they have in store for us! Next up is my sweet and amazing friend Kim Kelly | Food Photographer and Writer. I'll tell you what.. Kim is the health guru.. umm, except for those killer brownies, :) and I am sure you won't be disappointed with her amazing recipes! After you visit her blog make sure you check out her Pinterest page too!

Please stop by The Inspired Plate's Facebook page, we look forward to being friends!