Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Daughter's Favorite Toys (3 of 4)

And what better to do with your dollies than spend hours pushing them around in a stroller?! My daughter has a "go go" like this one from Pottery Barn Kids. Greatest gift ever! (Thank you Farrah!)

My Daughter's Favorite Toys (2 of 4)

I'm a big fan of Corolle baby dolls, as is my daughter. The Babipouce Grenadine was her first baby doll and she loved it. It's the perfect first doll because there are no pieces (eyeballs, buttons, etc) that could come off and become a choking hazard. They are machine washable which is great too.

My daughter received this Bebe Charmeur doll for Christmas and loves it. The outfit comes off so she likes to pretend to change the doll's diaper. She also enjoys sneaking a suck on the baby's binky which always makes me laugh.

These award winning dolls are sold online via the Corolle website as well as many other sites. They are also carried at my favorite neighborhood toy stores in Seattle (Izilla Toys & Urban Kids Play). Check your local mom & pop shop to see if they carry them. Great gift idea for little ones.

My Daughter's Favorite Toys (1 of 4)

My sister-in-law and I both bought these Fisher-Price Doodle Pros for the girls this Christmas. We have girls who are nine weeks apart so we end up buying two of everything when shopping for Christmas gifts. We bought different sizes which worked out great. We have a big one for the playroom and a travel size for the diaper bag. The big one has some magnets that provide extra entertainment and the small one is a God-send at restaurant.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

One Bag at a Time

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."

- Mahatma Gandhi

The other day I had to run some errands and ended up making purchases at five different stores (nothing exciting sadly). Each time the cashier had my purchase ready I asked to skip the bag because I brought an empty bag with me from home. I've been doing this for some time now (or shoving purchases in crevices of my stroller) as one small gesture to help save the planet. It's such an easy way to help cut back on waste. I know most people nowadays use the reusable shopping bags at the grocery store (if you don't you should start!) but I never ever see people at clothing stores, book stores or drug stores passing on a shopping bag. I wonder why that is. A bag is a bag. Waste is waste.

Throw some old paper shopping bags in your trunk so they're there when you need them. Or you can bring along a canvas bag like the ones from L.L.Bean (love the monogrammed ones) or these cute Be Smart Be Green bags for your next shopping outings or round of errands.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Year of the Ox

Today, January 26th, is the Chinese New Year and the first day of the Year of the Ox.

My husband is half Chinese so I've been wanting to host a Chinese New Year party for years. I took a Chinese cooking class a few years ago and thought it would be so fun to throw a huge dinner party with tons of authentic food and decorations. Ah, sounds like fun, but it also sounds like hours upon hours of work and I just didn't have it in me after the whirlwind we called the holidays this year. So, instead of a big party at home we opted for a 10-course Chinese dinner for 10 at a fabulous restaurant in Seattle's International District (Sea Garden for all you Seattleites). We all sat at one huge round table with a lazy susan in the middle. The food was fantastic and everyone ate and drank to their hearts content.
I love an excuse to get creative so I made some cute menus and place cards with a Chinese image of an ox. I also gave the traditional red envelope with a brand new dollar bill to each person for good luck. I clearly should have done my homework before the party because you are supposed to give an even number of bills. OOPS. Had I had more time I would have also done some custom fortune cookies with funny fortunes inside. I also wanted to get everyone's birthday and print up something with their Chinese zodiac sign and characteristics but time got away from me. Next time.

We did this style dinner once before to celebrate my sister's marriage (read more about it and the menu here). It is such a fantastic way to celebrate with friends or family. We will most definitely do it again.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

mmmmm, Posole

My friend Whitney hosted what was probably the first dinner party among our group of friends, maybe 10 years ago, and served posole. It was so good that I tracked down the recipe from her years later when I was first starting to cook. I make this recipe regularly now. It is tasty, hearty and healthy.

You can generally find tomatillos year-round but they are best in summer and early autumn.

I like to add shredded chicken to the recipe so it's more of a meal. I always prepare shredded chicken the way Ina details in her recipe for Mexican Chicken Soup. It's so easy and the meat stays moist.

Posole with Garnishes
Martha Stewart’s Healthy Quick Cook

1 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ t cumin
1 t kosher salt
1 16 ounce can golden hominy, drained
1 small jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 pound tomatillos, diced (about 3 cups)
2 bunches Swiss chard, coarsely chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves

8 radishes, very thinly sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, very thinly sliced
1 small avocado, cubed
8 scallions, very thinly sliced
2 T sour cream
2 limes, quarters
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
2. Add the cumin and salt. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the hominy, jalapeno and tomatillos and cook, stirring, for one minute.
4. Add the Swiss chard, stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes (until chard is wilted and the leaves are tender).
6. Remove bay leaves and ladle into 4 bowls. Serve garnishes buffet style.

My friend Lynne also cooks a great posole-inspired stew, called Green Chili with Pork, from Gourmet magazine. I haven't gotten around to making it yet but I remember really enjoying it.

About Posole/Pozole (from wikipedia)
Pozole (from Spanish pozole, from Nahuati potzolli; variant spellings: posole, pozolé, pozolli) is a traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew from Mexico and New Mexico. It is made from hominy, with pork (or other meat), chile, garbanzo beans and other seasonings and garnish, such as cabbage, lettuce, oregano, radish, cilantro, avocado, lime juice, etc. There are a number of variations on pozole, including blanco (white or clear), verde (green), rojo (red), de frijol (with beans), and elopozole (sweet corn, squash, and meat).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Organic Baby

I'm definitely not as committed to organic clothes as organic food but I did invest in some essentials when my girl was first born. It's amazing how many brands of organic cotton baby clothes have popped up since then. It's so great to see all the new styles and color combos. I'm excited to have so many more options when baby #2 comes along (no, I'm not pregnant!).

I bought a lot of Under the Nile organic cotton onesies and jammies. I was crazy for their classic pink and white stripe numbers.

I've blogged about Kate Quinn Organics in the past. I'm a huge fan of her stuff and buy a lot of her gear as new baby gifts. She's created some super cute little dresses in her last few collections too with great details (collar, pockets, buttons, and more).
Check out her site. Everything is on sale! The gift set with seven colorful onesies is on sale for $73.50. What a great buy. That's just over $10 a piece for organic cotton basics. Pretty darn good!

I recently came across another great brand of organic cotton baby clothing called Rattled. It's been popping up on some blogs like Babyccino and Tangled & True to name a few. Rattled offers six styles in twelve great colors so you can mix and match. Why didn't I think of that?!

In addition to offering great baby basics, they donate 10% of their profits to children in need. Love that. I wonder what non-profit organization they work with. It's always nice to put a "face" to donations.

Sckoon is another brand of 100% organic cotton clothing. Their little kimono onesies come in these cute color combos. I LOVE!

And for jammies, don't forget the amazing Hannah Anderson organic cotton baby sleepers. I'm addicted to those for my girl.

Bottega Veneta Beauties!

I saw a fashion spread in this month's issue of Vogue featuring some amazing Bottega Veneta pieces. I can't track down the outfit or the shoes that made my heart go pitter patter but I was able to track down some other amazing pieces. As Rachel Zoe would say, I die.....

Okay, sadly my links aren't working but I suggest you go through the online catalog because there are some BEAUTIES in there. Here's some of my faves (by name since the links aren't taking you to the right page) and I still need to track down the most insane wedges ever so we can all drool over them.





Thursday, January 22, 2009

Panini Party

My friends and I always go out to dinner to celebrate our birthdays. Each month the birthday girl gets to choose the restaurant. Last night we celebrated my friend Lynne's birthday and her dinner request was to have dinner at her house rather than go out. Instead of a big expensive dinner at a restaurant we feasted on homemade paninis, salad and wine. Our friend Nicole made a yummy cake for dessert (yellow cake with chocolate frosting - everyone's favorite). It was cheap, casual, tasty and fun. After dinner we sat around on the couch, telling stories and fighting over three week old baby Reilly. I will take that style birthday dinner any day. It was great.

If you don't own a panini grill you are missing out. I have the Breville Ikon Panini Press and love it. Buy your husband one for Valentine's Day and promise to make him good paninis for dinner! It would be a win-win! We made these two paninis but the possibilities are endless...

Happy Birthday Panini Party

Panini #1 - Colleen's Italian Grinder
Ciabbata bread
Genoa salami
Roasted red peppers

Panini #2 - Slight Variation on Giada's Croissant Panini
Essential Bakery Piccolo Como bread (variation is bread instead of croissant)
Genoa salami
Smoked Gouda

And we can't forget the main attraction, Reilly Malone, pictured here on his first day of life. He's as cute as they come!

(HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY LYNNIE! What a perfect birthday dinner! Yay!)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Nie!

For those of you who have been following the story of Stephanie Nielson, she's back (in recovery of course) and posting on her site Nie Nie Dialogues.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Magical Fruit

I'm hooked on recipe for Chicken Enchiladas and have been making them a lot lately. The nice thing is you can do everything ahead of time (cook chicken, prepare filling, grate cheese, chop green onion and cilantro). When your guests arrive or hubby gets home, throw the corn tortillas in the oven for a minute just to warm them, then continue to prepare as directed. I love serving the enchiladas with black beans. I've been fiddling with a recipe (inspired by Orangette) and here's what I've been doing...

Black Beans

1 T olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
3 T garlic, minced
2-3 T cilantro. minced
1 t lime juice, not required
1 T enchilada sauce, not required
1/2 t chipotle chiles, minced (if you have a can open for the enchiladas) or 1 t hot sauce
2 25oz can black beans, and their juices
4-5 t cumin
1 bay leaf
1/4 t paprika
Salt & pepper
Queso Fresco
Sour Cream
Chopped green onion

Saute onion in olive oil for 5-10 minutes over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Stir in spices and chiles and saute for another minute. Add beans and enchilada sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cilantro and lime juice, reduce heat to low and continue to cook for about 10-20 more minutes. When serving, top with queso fresco, sour cream and green onions.

This recipe makes enough to go along with the enchiladas if feeding 6-8 adults.

Health Benefits of Black Beans
  • great source of fiber and protein
  • high in antioxidants
  • helps to lower cholesterol
  • protects against heart disease and cancer
  • helps balance blood sugar levels (great food for diabetics)
  • especially good for you served with brown rice

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rain Rain Don't Go Away

Back in September I posted about the cutest mini Hunter Wellies. They are so cute and I would have snatched up a pair in a heartbeat for my little lady but they aren't sold in anything smaller than a children's size 8. Well looky here, at these adorable rubber rain boots by Aigle. They're equally cute and start at children's size 3 (Euro 19 / 9 months). Woo Hoo!

You can buy them online via their website or ... I just bought a solid navy pair at Flora & Henri today on sale for 50% off ($35 down from $70). Not available on their website so call now to order a pair (206-749-9698). On that note, visit their website for 50-80% off their current and past collections. Cute stuff, great Easter and party dresses, gorgeous sweaters, and more!

These Aigle boots are also a great alternative to Hunter Wellies if you're in the market for a pair of rain boots for yourself! I love!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

No More Excuses

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to exercise more regularly. I am definitely an all or nothing person which hurts me in the long run. I get myself on a good exercise program and I work-out consistently. Then I get off schedule for a few weeks in a row and I lose all momentum. Next thing you know I've gone months without exercising. It's pathetic. So my new goal is to just be steady. No more all or nothing.

To help motivate myself I made this snazzy little weekly calendar with all the fitness and yoga classes that I like. This way when I know I have a babysitter or my husband will be home I can check out what my options are. And there's all that blank space too, so if I have a free moment during one of those times, I could go on a walk, give jogging a try or do a video at home. No more excuses that if I don't have a solid routine I can't stay motivated. I can do this! And so can you!

King Corn

“For the first time in American history, our generation was at
risk of having a shorter lifespan than our parents. And it was
because of what we ate.”
Curt Ellis, KING CORN filmmaker
“If you’re standing in a field in Iowa, there’s an immense amount of food being grown, none of it edible. The commodity corn, nobody can eat. It must be processed before we can eat it. It’s a raw material—it’s a feedstock for all these other processes. And the irony is that an Iowa farmer can no longer feed himself.”
Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma

My husband and I recently watched the documentary King Corn. It wasn't the best documentary we've ever seen, but it's worth watching.

The filmmakers, two friends from Boston, move to Iowa to grow an acre of corn. After harvest their goal is to follow corn into America's food system. What they discover is the sad truth about corn-fed beef, high fructose corn syrup and the state of America's health.

A lot of the information was stuff I've heard or read before in books like The Omnivore's Dilemma, but most of it was new and fascinating to my husband. It really got him thinking about what he eats (at least for a few minutes after the movie but we'll see if it sticks). He actually went straight to the fridge to check things out. The the only thing he found with high fructose corn syrup was the 7up he uses for cocktails when entertaining. (A proud moment for me considering I was the Coca-Cola & Junk Food Queen all through high school, college and several years after. It makes me cringe to think about all the crap I use to eat on a regular basis.)

There's some great information on the King Corn website as well - information about the film, the Farm Bill and what you can do, both for the state of our nation's health (writing your congressperson) and for your own personal health (changing the way you eat).

Michael Pollan, my author-crush, had a few guest appearances in the movie too. Love that man.


I've never been one to wear
Tory Burch but think it's cute on other people. For those of you who are big fans, check out Baby Gap's tiniest tunic. It looks like it's straight off the runway from a Tory Burch baby collection. It has matching pants too that are pretty darn cute.

I skipped the outfit but got these little ballet espadrilles because Mommy has an addiction to espadrilles in any way, shape or form. Someone, please, save me from myself!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dinner for One and a Half

My husband is out of town so I wanted a quick and easy dinner since I knew my little one would be tugging at my leg all night. I just bought some delicious lemon tahini dressing (from The Sunlight Cafe on Roosevelt for all you Seattleites) so I whipped up a new salad and one of my favorite pasta dishes, a variation on pesto, that's oh so easy.

Lemon Tahini Salad

Grated carrot
Sesame seeds
Grated cheddar cheese
Spicy pumpkin seeds (found in the bulk food section at Whole Foods)
Lemon tahini dressing (store-bought or homemade)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Super Sole

My new plan is to cook fish every Tuesday because I'm near Mutual Fish in Rainier Valley and "they say" it's the best place to buy fresh fish in Seattle. As long as I'm in the neighborhood once a week, I might as well take advantage.

I always ask for their freshest, wild fish. Yesterday there were several options but I went with the Petrale Sole again so I could try a different preparation.

Last time I cooked Petrale Sole I prepared it piccata style with lemon juice, capers, and parsley. This time I decided to do a breaded variation with the same ingredients minus the capers. I preferred this version but my husband liked it better last time. You really can't go wrong with fresh fish, lemon juice, parsley and some seasoning.

Pan-Fried Petrale Sole with a Light Lemon-Wine Sauce

1lb Petrale Sole
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or regular white flour)
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg, scrambled and mixed with 1 t water
3 T butter
4 T olive oil
2 T garlic, minced
2 T shallot, minced
1/2 cup white wine
juice of one lemon
2 T fresh flat leaf parsley
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Rinse fillets and pat to dry. Season with salt and pepper. Dip fillet in egg, then dredge through flour/breadcrumb mixture and pat to make stick. Heat 2 T butter and 2 T olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. When it starts to sizzle, add fillets and cook for 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Add 2 T olive oil to hot pan, turn down heat a bit and add garlic and shallot. Saute for several minutes. Add wine to deglaze pan and scrape up burnt pieces from bottom of pan. Add lemon juice and parsley. Whisk in 1 T butter. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Check sauce for seasoning and add salt or pepper if needed. Add fish, flip over once to coat in sauce, then simmer for a few minutes. Serve hot with a little more parsley sprinkled on top.

Parental Overdrive

My friend Ali posted the article, "The Over-Parenting Crisis," on her Facebook page and I thought it was worth sharing. It's a quick read about how over-parenting has become an epidemic. Sadly, I think it's completely true. I don't believe we're doing our children any favors by this new style of parenting and actually, I think it's a huge disservice to them in the long run.

If you are like-minded, may I recommend the book, "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee" by Dr. Wendy Mogel. I loved the book and have given it to several friends who also enjoyed her thoughts and strategies about how to raise self-reliant children. You don't need to be Jewish or even relgious to gain some great new perspective from the book.

Following Fashionistas

Every once in awhile I check out the website Park Avenue Peerage. The site posts photographs of all the young New York socialites at their various galas and benefits. For the most part I know nothing about these people, except maybe Tinsley who is totally over-exposed the past few years. I do like Byrdie Bell, Olivia Palermo and Margherita Missoni to name a few. I really just enjoy seeing what these young fashionistas are wearing and how they're wearing it. And oh how I covet their shoe collections. Can you even imagine?!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Speaking of Cabbage

Check out this old New York Times "Well" blog post on "The 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating". The author asks Dr. Bowden, author of “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth,” to highlight some great foods that you probably aren't eating on a regular basis.

And looky there, cabbage is #2 on the list. I thought cabbage was one of those foods people aren't eating, hence "The Forgotten Veggie" post.

Perfect little nudge to go buy yourself a head of cabbage and get cookin'! Try that great Ina recipe I just wrote about or my husband's delicious sauteed cabbage recipe listed below.

The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating

  1. Beets
  2. Cabbage
  3. Swiss chard
  4. Cinnamon
  5. Pomegranate juice
  6. Dried plums
  7. Pumpkin seeds
  8. Sardines
  9. Turmeric
  10. Frozen blueberries
  11. Canned pumpkin

Sauteed Cabbage, Michael-style

2 T vegetable or canola oil
1 head of cabbage, cut into large bite-size pieces

3 cloves of garlic, sliced
3/4 inch ginger, peeled and sliced
1 t chicken bouillon
1 packet won ton soup seasoning packet, mixed with 1 cup water

Using a wok or other large pan, turn heat to medium-high, then add oil. Add garlic and ginger, saute until light golden brown. Add cabbage and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes. When it appears to be almost done, add chicken bouillon and won ton mixture. Stir to combine and let cook for a few more minutes. Serve hot.

Today's Juice Smoothie

1 cup orange juice
1/2 apple
1/2 banana
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
2 cups fresh spinach, rinsed well
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
1 heaping teaspoon flaxseed

Combine in blender. Makes three small or two medium juice smoothies. Perfect afternoon snack.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Forgotten Veggie

photo courtesy of The Daily Green

I feel like cabbage is kind of the forgotten veggie in a lot of homes. I don't know many people who cook cabbage. I go in cabbage stages, eating a ton of it and then I forget about it for months. Luckily I married a man whose small repertoire of recipes includes a darn good recipe for cabbage with garlic, ginger, chicken bouillon and Won Ton soup flavoring. It is to die for (will post the recipe one day soon).

I'm also crazy for Ina's sauteed cabbage. It's nothing more than butter, salt, pepper, and cabbage. It's too easy for how good it tastes. It gets a slight sweetness and I could literally eat an entire head of cabbage by myself.

According to the article Cabbage, an Inexpensive Nutritional Powerhouse in the New York Times, cabbage has a "huge nutritional bang for your buck".

Some of the health benefits I've read about in the last 24 hours...

- cancer inhibitor
- stimulates the immune system
- kills harmful bacteria
- soothes ulcers
- improves circulation
- rich in vitamins A, C, E, and B

Cabbage is at it's best in the late fall and winter months so go it now folks!

Beautiful Paintings by Francesco Clemente

I came across the artist Francesco Clemente in the December issue of Vogue. I looked online to see more of his artwork and found the painting shown above. There is something so unique and beautiful about the way he paints the faces. I love the way he exaggerates the eyes, especially on the painting below.

It makes me want to take a painting class.... Maybe in another life.

I would love to see his book although it received terrible reviews thanks to the layout of the artwork. Sounds like the book binding runs through most of the paintings. You'd think at that price they would get it right.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Lentil Soup with Chorizo

It's my friend Whitney's birthday today and in honor of her I wanted to post about the most delicious soup she made Thursday night. Whitney doesn't follow recipes so she gave me the basic run-down, I typed it up, ran to the grocery store yesterday, and made it this morning. I couldn't wait another minute. I had to have it.

Whitney doesn't mess around in the kitchen and whips up great food with such ease. It took about 20 minutes to get everything in the pot, three hours to simmer and we had ourselves a delicious lunch (plus tons of leftovers for tomorrow).

(Happy happy birthday my dear friend, cheers to the year ahead and thanks again for the awesome soup!)

Happy Birthday Lentil Soup with Chorizo

2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 t cumin
1 bay leaf
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
2 quarts chicken stock
1 cup water
3 links of chorizo, sliced (we used Garret County chorizo sausages that were pre-cooked)
1 1/2 cups lentils, rinsed
1 package frozen cut spinach

Saute onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil until tender (5-8 minutes). Add garlic and saute for another few minutes. Add salt, pepper, cumin and bay leaf. Add lentils, chicken stock and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add frozen spinach cube. Cover and simmer for 2 hours (stirring occasionally to break up spinach), then add chorizo and simmer for 1 more hour. Check for seasoning, remove bay leaf and serve.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Too Cute for Words

My sister-in-law's friend Stephanie is such a talented seamstress. Not only is her work impeccable but she comes up with the cutest patterns for children's clothes. I think she could sell her items for big bucks.

My sister-in-law has been buying some of Stephanie's pieces for her own daughter and for mine. Lucky me! This year for Christmas she bought these capes, specially made for our girls. They could not be cuter. I can't resist a picture of my daughter in it...

Last year for Christmas she gave me some wide leg jeans and wide leg cords (jeans shown below). My daughter lives in the jeans (the cords don't fit yet) because they are so cute that they're all I ever want to put her in. My daughter is even smaller than the girl pictured below so the wide leg is exaggerated. They are so stinking cute!!!!
Stephanie made this little skirt with the faux apron on front and the embroidered "G" for my niece. She is so clever and so creative.

Now, get ready to cry your eyes out because no, she does not have an Etsy shop or an online boutique. I think she needs one asap, or even a store front. She is too talented to be making this just for family and friends. Although I'm not complaining since I get the goods via my sister-in-law. I'll keep you posted if things change or if she's open to taking orders!

Quick & Nutritious Juice Smoothie

This morning I made a great juice smoothie in my blender. It was sweet, tasty, and good for you! Plus it took less than 5 minutes to make! My daughter even sucked it down and then wanted "moe".

Recipe for 1 glass:

1/2 cup orange juice
2 T frozen blueberries
1 huge handful of spinach, rinsed and stems removed
2 T parsley leaves, rinsed

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Currently Listening To...

While home sick one day about a year ago, I watched the movie La Vie En Rose about the tragic life of legendary French "chanson" singer Edith Piaf.
I'm a sucker for a great film biography that tugs at your heartstrings so I really enjoyed this movie.
Edith Piaf's powerful voice won her global recognition. I recognized some of her music in the movie and some of it was new to me. I loved it all. I ordered her CD "Eternelle: Best of" and listen to it in my car all the time.
Another highlight of the film was the performance by the stunning Marion Cotillard who plays the lead role as Edith Piaf. Her performance won her an Oscar for Best Actress in 2008. I was thrilled to see her win.
Great movie. Great CD. I recommend them both.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Indian Themed Meatless Night

My brother is in town and came over for dinner tonight. It's always fun having him for dinner because he's a great cook and he's always so helpful in my kitchen of chaos. When he arrived tonight I had Martha's Indian Spice Split Pea soup on the stove, a large cauliflower in hand, two recipes and no clue what I wanted to do with it. We decided to have a cauliflower cook-off. Fun!

The only rule was it had to have curry.

Both recipes were quite good and I will make them both again, but my brother was the clear winner. Here are the recipes. We served with Martha's soup, wheat toast with butter, and wine, of course. Indian themed meatless night was a hit.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower (the winner)
Inspired by Bon Appetite

one head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
1/2 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or minced and soaked in olive oil
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 t coriander
1 t cumin
2 t curry powder
1-2 t paprika
1 t kosher salt (plus more to taste)
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped

juice of one lime

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place cauliflower florets and onion in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, vinegar, cumin, curry, paprika and coriander. Transfer to a rimmed cookie sheet, in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast cauliflower for 10 minutes. Take out and stir. Roast for 5 more minutes. Stir in garlic. Roast for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and lime juice. Toss and serve hot or at room temperature.

Cauliflower with Curry and Garbanzo Beans

1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into large bite sized pieces
1 can garbanzo beans
2 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cups chicken stock
1 T curry
1 t paprika
1/4 t red chili flakes
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 T cilantro, minced
juice of half a lime

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic and saute for a few minutes, making sure not to burn. Add cauliflower, garbanzo beans and red chili flakes and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with curry, paprika, salt and pepper. Add chicken stock. Stir and simmer for 15 minutes or until cauliflower and beans are fully cooked. Serve as a side dish or over brown rice for a main dish.

Health Benefits of Cauliflower

- best natural source of vitamin C after citrus fruits
- excellent source of fiber
- good source of folic acid and potassium
- works as an antioxidant
- improves heart health
- reduces the risk of strokes
- helps maintain a healthy cholesterol level

Best Life Week on Oprah

This week is "Best Life Week" on Oprah featuring specialists to address all areas of your life. I happened to catch a few minutes of Dr. Oz yesterday so I got online to see what he had to say. Here's his list (and links to read more) for 10 ways to live a healthier life. They're things we've all heard a million times, but a refresher is always good when starting off a new year. Here's to being healthier in 09!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Barista Baby

As some of you know (from one of my first blog posts), I am crazy for my Breville espresso machine. Why do I love it? Let me count the ways.
  1. I have paid for the machine a few times over. Think about how much money you spend every year on your daily Starbucks hit of caffeine.

  2. I don't have to leave the comfort of my own home to have a delicious coffee beverage. I have a coffee in my hands within 10 minutes of getting up - bedhead, pajamas, slippers and all.

  3. I buy fair trade and/or organic coffee and organic milk. Most coffee shops don't offer organic milk. (If you know of any in Seattle, please let me know!)

  4. I get to try great coffee like Stumptown, Caffe Ladro, Allegro and Peet's. I grind my own beans so my coffee grounds are oh so fresh.
  5. I can make whatever my little heart desires... nonfat latte, whole milk cappuccino, americano, espresso macchiato, soy, caffeine, half caf, decaf, you name it.

Now if I haven't convinced you to give up your Starbucks habit and buy your own machine, I don't know what else to say. They are expensive but if you're currently making a daily pit-stop for coffee, at say $3 per day, you will pay off your shining beauty in less than 4 months.

For Christmas I wanted to get my husband and I some over-sized coffee mugs for our morning cup of joe. Not an easy task. I checked out all the major stores... Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Cost Plus and more. No luck. Finally I tracked down two different mugs and got us each our own pair. I got my husband some huge Chantal 16oz mugs from Mr. J in Bellevue. I got myself a pair of the Sculptors Mugs by Ceramiche Virginia from Anthropologie. They start my day off with a smile.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Delicious Pasta Dinner in 10 Minutes

Have you ever ordered butternut squash or pumpkin ravioli with browned butter and sage from a restaurant? It's delicious, isn't it?! Well you can have something very similar at home in about 10 minutes.

I'm a big fan of fresh pasta found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store and I especially love Bertagni's pumpkin raviolis (available at Whole Foods among other stores).

The raviolis take 3-4 minutes to boil. Drain the noodles and melt 3 T of butter in the warm pan with some chopped sage. Let the butter brown just a smidge and then toss the noodles back in and stir. Toss with freshly grated parmesan (or pre-grated to be faster) and try a taste of heaven. It's so good and so easy.

(I wish I had a photo to share but we ate them up too fast.)

Quick & Easy Dinner

Giada has some great recipes so it's always fun to try a new one. Yesterday I made Orecchiette with Turkey Sausage and Broccoli Rabe from her Everyday Italian cookbook and it was great. My husband's comment was "This is good. This is blog-worthy!" A nice surprise since sometimes I ask if a recipe is blog-worthy and he says no. Oh how that hurts.

So for a quick and easy dinner give this a spin. I altered the recipe a bit. I used: 2 links of spicy pork sausage and 1 link of mild pork sausage instead of turkey sausage, twice the garlic, broccolini instead of broccoli rabe (cut in half lengthwise), lots of pepper and LOTS of parmesan. I served it with my garlic crostinis and since the pasta has a veggie in it, you really don't need to make anything else. Easy!

Re: broccoli rabe and broccolini...
  • Broccoli rabe, aka rapini, is not related to broccoli (didn't know that). It is closely related to turnips (weird). It has thinner stalks and is leafier, with smaller bunches of buds. It has a stronger, more bitter flavor, and all of the plant, including its leaves, is edible.

  • Broccolini is a natural hybrid vegetable, a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. It looks like regular broccoli except that the stems are thinner, the stalks are delicate, and the flower buds are also smaller. The flavor is sweet with a subtle, peppery edge. The texture is slightly crunchy.

New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again, to start thinking about all your New Year's resolutions. As I think about the last year and the resolutions I didn't accomplish, and think about the year ahead and all the things I want to do or change in my life, I get a little bummed out. New Years resolutions are great and all, but who wants to start the new year thinking about all the things they want to change in their life?

So, my first New Year's resolution is to start off the year on a positive note with a list of all the things I'm proud of myself for, whether it be from 2008 or life in general. The amazing and inspiring Stephanie Nielson of the Nie Nie Dialogues blog once did a list of all the things she was proud of herself for and I have been meaning to do the same ever since. We all have so many things to be proud of ourselves for so grab a pen, make a list, and start 09 feeling great!

I won't bore you with my list, but one thing I'm proud of myself for is this blog. I only wish I would have started it sooner because I enjoy it so much. I love looking at all the unique and informative blogs on the web and I love adding a bit of myself to the mix. Now off to think of more ....

It's a Boy! And Another Boy!

This week I welcomed two baby boys into the world - baby John, my nephew, and baby Reilly, my dear friend's first born. They are both too cute for words.

I bought a few gifts to bring to the hospital when the babies were born. I always like wrapping gifts as much as buying them so I wanted to do something creative. I had a few old cigar boxes tucked away and thought they would make the most perfect gift boxes.

There's a cigar shop here in town who sells boxes when they're done so I got a third box there for $2. I also bought a few cigars to tie on top. I thought they turned out quite cute.