Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fresh from the Market

One of my favorite things to do every Sunday is head to the farmers market and get stocked up for the week. My daughter and I were there bright and early this morning. We journeyed around the market once alone, making lots of stops to buy the week's groceries, grab a snack or watch the live music. Then a friend met us and we did it all again. The second trip around brought many more treats for my daughter including a rice crispy treat with peanut butter and Nutella (can you imagine anything better? They were so good we had to go back for more). Not my ideal way for her to eat but I was having a good time and wanted to prolong our outing so what better distraction than sugar? (I actually know better and kicked myself later when she wouldn't go down for her nap.)

Anyway, all said and done I spent two and a half hours at the market and got three bags full of food for the week along with some lunch and a million snacks. We kicked off the week of meals tonight with a fabulous farmers market dinner from start to finish...

I loved the fresh, wild-caught salmon that I bought a few weeks ago so I was sure to stop back by the same booth. The salmon was caught the day before yesterday and filleted last night. So fresh. I used Giada's recipe for Broiled Salmon with Herb Mustard Glaze which is the easiest thing on earth and so good.

Red Potatoes
I always use Giada's recipe for Roasted Baby Potatoes with Herbs. I buy bigger red potatoes and cut them into chunks. I never feel that it takes the full hour to cook. I hold off on adding the garlic because it burns at that temp. I soak the garlic in olive oil before tossing it to help prevent it from burning. Then I wait until the potatoes are pretty much cooked before tossing with the garlic. I throw the pan back in the oven for 5-8 more minutes to cook the garlic, then they're ready to go.

I saute it with sliced garlic and olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a little fresh lemon juice. Quick to prepare and healthy too. A favorite in our house.

Red & Green Romaine Lettuce
Tossed with shaved parmesan, a touch of lemon juice and the most delicious Classic Caesar salad dressing from the ladies of Honey! I'm Home! (They are also the geniuses behind the peanut butter and Nutella rice crispy treats.)
Cherry Pies
Pacific Coast Bakery has a booth at the market selling the most delicious homemade pies. I love the individual cherry pies, warmed and served with a little Julie's Organic vanilla ice cream (my fave). Heaven on earth!

Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating

I just finished reading Food Matters by Mark Bittman. While I think it's a must-read, I recognize that it's not for everyone and there's a lot of detail about our nations food system that would bore most people. However, he does have some really solid points and easy suggestions for eating in a way that will be better for the environment, better for your health, better for your waistline and better for your pocketbook. How can that not interest you?!

"Food Matters presents a series of easily adaptable strategies—along with meal plans and recipes—for eating sanely, judiciously, and consciously. Eating this way will not only cut back on greenhouse gas production but will help become generally more healthy and probably lose weight.

That's been my experience; when I started eating like Food Matters, about two years ago, I quickly lost about 35 pounds, saw my cholesterol and blood sugar levels drop, and cleared up a few other health problems. Maybe more importantly, I developed and became accustomed to a style of eating that is less reliant on animal products and nutritionally worthless food, along with the knowledge that my personal impact on the environment went from approximately the size of an SUV to a Prius.

If I told you that the same simple adjustments could help you lose weight, reduce your chances of many long-term diseases, and help stop global warming, I imagine you’d be intrigued. If I also told you that these actions, while not effortless, are lifestyle changes that are easier and more pleasant than any diet you’ve ever tried, and take less time and effort than your exercise routine, I would think you’d want to read more."

I highly recommend reading this book. It's informative and inspiring for anyone who wants to be a healthy and conscious eater without dieting or giving up certain foods entirely. I have already made sublte changes in the way I eat and hope to continue making baby steps to more healthful conscious eating.

It's a quick read considering the bulk of the info is in the first 120 pages. The rest of the book contains a sample meal plan and recipes. If the thought of reading about our nation's food system and gross overconsumption sounds like torture to you, then just read the following three chapters:

- Sane Eating
- How to Eat Like Food Matters
- How to Cook Like Food Matters

Friday, May 29, 2009

How Do I Love Etsy? Let Me Count The Ways....

My two-year-old niece showed up at our house in this adorable handmade dress from Etsy's Butterfly Baby Place. It's even cuter in person, especially with the little tied bow on the shoulder. I might have to copy and order one for my little lady.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Who Knew Frozen French Fries Could Taste This Good?!

Tonight I made delicious Avgolemono Soup and thought a batch of Greek fries would be a yummy side dish. I wanted to test them out in hopes of serving them at our next summer dinner party with Chicken Souvlaki. The fries turned out delicious and were super easy.

1 bag of frozen Alexia's Salt & Pepper Oven Crinkles
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 T fresh parsley, minced
1 T fresh oregano, minced
1/2 cup feta
juice from one large lemon wedge
small bowl of tzatziki, homemade or store-bought

Preheat oven to 450. Mix minced garlic in a small bowl with olive oil to coat. Set aside. Place fries on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with half of the parsley and oregano. Cook for ten minutes, then remove and stir. Cook for ten more minutes. Remove and sprinkle with the remaining herbs and the garlic. Stir the fries and cook for five to ten more minutes, until they're as crispy as you like them. While you wait for the fries to finish cooking, crumble feta and combine in a small bowl with lemon juice. Remove fries and transfer to a plate. Top with feta/lemon mixture. Serve with tzatziki on the side for dipping.

Trend Alert - Light Wash Denim

Trend Report from Who What Wear

So light-wash denim is back, eh? Yikes. It's not as flattering as dark denim but okay. A few of my friends (Farrah and Lynne) have been sporting the light denim and I'm loving it. But will it look as cute in maternity jeans? For sure no but I'm getting some anyway.

7 For All Mankind Super Flare Jeans in Ibiza

True Boot Jean from American Eagle

First Class Mail

I just came across these new King & Queen of Hearts postage stamps on Orange Beautiful. Finally a postage stamp that is decorative but not too cutesy or cheesy. I love.

Custom Silhouette Greetings

Check out these adorable custom silhouette cards available on Etsy. A friend of a friend just hired her to do a baby announcement showing their toddler pushing a stroller with the new baby. Creative idea. Cute option for announcements, birthday party invites, thank you cards or just blank notes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chicken Souvlaki Gyro Style

I recently posted a recipe for chicken souvlaki that's great to cook in the summer because it's so easy to prep and cooks on the grill. My friend Jen took it a step further and served it like they do at the best Greek cafe in town. Vios serves the grilled meat gyro-style, wrapped in a warm pita with tzatzaki, roasted tomatoes, fresh parsley and red onion. I followed her lead this weekend and brought that to a BBQ.

I didn't want to be in the kitchen on such a beautiful day so I bought the tzatziki and roasted tomatoes at Vios (besides, they have the best of both) but if you had the time, you could certainly make these items from scratch or track them down at a grocery store.

Everyone loved the meal and not a crumb was left over. You could serve these with a great Horiatiki or Greek salad and some homemade Greek fries (fries with oregano, lemon juice and feta) and you have yourself a great dinner.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Eat Local

While visiting the University Farmers Market a few weeks ago I came across a company called Eat Local. I was familiar with the company and have visited their store on Queen Anne but I hadn't tried their food yet so I thought I might as well stock up on a few things for the new freezer. They had lots of things to choose from at the market and offer an even larger selection at their store. Check out their website to see their menu of frozen goods.

Yesterday I needed something quick so I grabbed an Eat Local squash and kale pizza out of the freezer and heated it up for lunch. I loved it and thought it was much better than I had expected. I will definitely be making another stop by their store or booth for a few more of those.

Their website also shows that they offer delivery through Spuds so if you live between Everett and Olympia in Washington state, you can get your hands on their yummy food without a trip to Seattle.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


My friend Tara sent me this fab food site called Taste Spotting. It appears to be a compilation of great recipes from countless blogs. Heaven! I've already spent a good half hour on it and found some recipes I want to make.

The one that caught my eye right away was this recipe for carrot muffins with cream cheese filling. Do they not look deeee-licious?! I tagged this link as a favorite hoping to make them very very soon. Then, coincidentally, two appeared at my doorstep. What are the chances, right?! Tara swung by to borrow my Go Go Kidz TravelMate and brought me some from a batch she just baked. I could not believe my luck. They were heavenly too - the perfect ratio of "cake" to "frosting". As the author even contemplates, the "muffins" are so good that you wonder if they shouldn't be called cupcakes. How about muffin-cakes?

Not only does Taste Spotting feature great recipes but everything is photographed so beautifully. There are so many talented cooks and photographers out there. Impressive. Inspiring. Mouth watering. Check it out.

(Thanks Tara for making my morning!!!!)

Homemade Veggie Pizza in Honor of the Flying Squirrel

Last weekend we went out for dinner to one of our favorite pizzerias in Seattle called the Flying Squirrel. I heard about it from my friend Ali Austin Scheff who is the Dining Editor of Seattle Magazine and writes the blog Eating Seattle. We've become big fans of the Flying Squirrel and battle rush-hour traffic on a regular basis to go there (it's nowhere near close to our house but we're addicted).

I'm not loving pork these days (pregnancy related) so in steering clear of sausage, peperoni, Canadian bacon, and prosciutto, I chose a vegetarian pizza called "The Farm". It was so good that I barely said a word once it arrived because I was horsing it down.

I even tried to re-create it the next night at home. Mine was delicious but Flying Squirrel definitely does it better. If you can't get there though, try this topping combo next time you make pizza. Deeeeeeeeeeeelicious!
The Farm
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Goat cheese
Zucchini, sliced
Nicoise olives
Minced garlic

We opted to do pizza on the BBQ this time. It turned out great and is a good way to avoid using the oven on hot days. My sister-in-law introduced us to this method and here are her tips...
  • Brush olive oil on the grill
  • Roll out your pizza dough, then brush one side with olive oil.
  • Place on the BBQ, oiled side down, for a few minutes (until it's slightly browned).
  • Remove from grill and brush olive oil on the non-grilled side.
  • Flip it over so the grilled side is up.
  • Add sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice.
  • Put back on a well-oiled BBQ grill until pizza is cooked, keeping lid closed to help heat and melt the cheese.
Here are photos of my husband and dad's pizzas using Salumi salami. They loved theirs as well. Great BBQ dinner for your family or with guests.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Homemade Ricotta

I just came across this video on how to make fresh ricotto on the Mixed Greens blog. Who knew it was this easy to make ricotta cheese? I want to make it asap. Can't wait. Stay tuned.

Momma's Boy

I bought this outfit for one of my favorite little guys, Reilly Malone, and he looked so cute in it that when I found out I was having a boy I wanted one for myself. I tracked it down on the City Threads website and it comes in both the outfit and a single t-shirt. I got both in different sizes. I couldn't resist.

Staying Organized

My friend Jackie and I were talking and she said I should blog about how I stay so organized. I actually never feel organized. I always feel like my life/schedule/house/car/purse/etc are a mess and completely chaotic. When it comes to bills, birthdays, errands, mail, keeping an uncluttered house (clean - yes, but uncluttered - no), I am a true mess. But, there are a handful of things I'm great at organizing and staying on top of - one being all the photos that I take. I think that's actually how Jackie and I got on the subject of staying organized.

As you know, I'm not a gifted photographer but I am great about bringing my camera, taking lots and lots of pictures, and making sure they find their way to photo albums rather than just being images on the computer or ending up in shoe boxes. Here are my tricks...

  • I load up on the faux leather photo albums from Target. They have a few different versions and I buy up all three (2-up, 3-up, three ring binder style) when they're in stock. If you take lots of photos, these are a great way to store them without breaking the bank.
  • Every time I come home from an event or trip, I download all the photos we took. I quickly pull the best ones and upload them to Kodak Gallery (or use Shutterfly, Flickr, whatever you like.). I keep an eye out for emails from Kodak offering the best coupons (10 cents per print, free shipping, etc) and every three or four months, when I see a great coupon, I submit my order.
  • Once they arrive, I try to get them in order sooner than later. The longer you leave photos in a drawer somewhere, the less likely you are to do anything with them. I try to organize while sitting in bed watching my trashy reality TV (Real Housewives anyone?).
  • Then I sucker my mom or a babysitter into helping me stuff the photos into the Target albums. Whenever we have a college babysitter watch my daughter at night, they are more than happy to help with my albums while watching TV. Have a date night AND get a project completed? Done! Don't be afraid to ask for this type of help if your children nap or will be in bed.
  • If I really had it in me I would love to go through and write comments in the margins about who is in each photo, the date, and where it was taken but I think I have far too many albums now to ever tackle that. If you're just getting started though, I would add that step so in 50 years you know the details of the photo.

So there's my two cents on staying on top of your photos. My theory is that if you stay on top of it, it's manageable. Once you let the photos stack up too much, it will haunt you and you'll never get it done. Keep in mind that I only have one child and I know life will be all the crazier once the second one arrives. Ask me again in a year if I'm still "on top of my albums" and I'm sure we'll get a good laugh.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Another Farmers Market Dinner

On Sunday I took my daughter and parents to the Ballard Farmers Market in Seattle. It was an amazing Seattle day and the streets were packed. We had a great time checking out all the amazing food from local farmers and culinary masters. My daughter loved all the live music and of course, all of the doggies. I couldn't stop buying food and can't wait for this week's meals. We kicked it off last night with a feast - main course, veggie, salad and dessert all from the market....

Ultra-fresh King Salmon
As they say on the blog, "This fish was swimming on Saturday" and I bought it Sunday. You can't get it any fresher than that. We cooked it on the grill with a very simple salmon recipe using olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary (from my new herb garden), lemon, wine and capers. It was super easy, light and flavorful.

Tossed with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, then grilled. Asparagus season will be over before I ever get sick of it prepared that way.

I bought the most beautiful head of romaine lettuce. It was monstrous in size. I can hardly believe it wasn't grown with pesticides... or steroids! I used the Simple But Delicious recipe. (I'm on one of my kicks).
Mini Cherry Pies
Warmed in the oven, then topped with vanilla ice cream
What's in store for the rest of the week? More asparagus and romaine, butter lettuce, organic chicken breasts, Pink Lady apples, specialty cheeses, cherry pies, fresh spinach and Yukon Gold potatoes.

Gardening Without a Green Thumb

If you follow my blog then you know I'm a lover of sedums and succulents. Now that some warm weather has finally arrived I'm on a little gardening kick. I replanted my strawberry pot with these wonderful sedums and succulents. I'm really proud of this little pot and smile every time I see it. I guess I finally understand the the sense of accomplishment that gardeners get from seeing the fruits of their labor.

I also thought I would give an herb garden a shot after seeing my friend Tara's garden. I'm starting small though and with some basic herbs. So far so good. My basil could be healthier but everything else is looking great. If this goes well it may just be the beginning of a new hobby.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Homemade Granola

I got my first taste of homemade granola a few years ago when my friend's aunt hosted a bridal shower for her. She passed out little bags of the most delicious granola, with the recipe tied to each bag. What a clever party favor. It was the most delicious granola and I've been making it regularly ever since. Once you have homemade granola it's hard to turn back. I like to eat it with milk or yogurt for breakfast, or just snack on it straight from the bag. I adjust the recipe just a touch. Here's my version...


3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup raw sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup plus 2 T honey
2 T molasses
1 cup whole pecans (measure out, then roughly chop)
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup dried sour cherries
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup golden raisins (if you can't find golden just use regular)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together first 5 ingredients - oats, wheat germ, coconut, sesame seeds, flax seeds. Place canola oil, honey and molasses in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Fold honey mixture into dry ingredients.

Pour granola on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and stir in pecans and pumpkin seeds. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove pan and stir granola. Return to oven and bake for 5 more minutes.

Remove from oven and stir in the sour cherries, currants and raisins. Let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to one month.

On the Go with Baby in Tow

I was just in LA visiting friends who have new babies and they were both raving about the ZoLi On-the-Go formula and snack dispensers. These are great when you're on the go with a little one. Fill each section with whatever you need - formula, rice cereal, cheerios or any other snack and you're off.

- BPA & Phthalate free
- 4 separate containers for formula & snacks
- Easy-pour spout

I stopped into The Little Seed while in LA and they were selling the ZoLi dispensers so I picked one up for when our little bambino arrives. My daughter's loving it already though so I'm sure we'll end up using it for snacks for her in the interim.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Saving Trees, One Step at a Time

Trying to do something good for the environment, I donated money to the National Resource Defence Council. Well next thing I know I'm on every non-profit's mailing list and the requests for donations and membership are coming in daily, by the handful. I guess I could understand if I were donating big bucks and my name was worth sharing but that was not the case. One small donation and I'm plagued with more mail. So much for helping the environment! Now every few days I sit at the computer looking up websites and sending off emails asking to be removed from mailing lists.
There are services you can join to help limit your junk mail but who wants to pay for that? I'm committed to the cause though so everytime I receive some, I set it aside. I have just recently removed myself from the constant influx of catalogs from Pottery Barn, William Sonoma, Land of Nod, Restoration Hardware and the like. All those companies have stores and if they aren't in your area then you can always check out their websites. Who needs a catalog twice a month from each one? It is so wasteful.
So, I challenge you to take 20 minutes each week and try to limit your junk mail. You will save that time down the road when you're not sorting through it all and recyling all the junk.
Remember what Gandhi said, "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."

Crewcuts Opens in Seattle!

JCrew's children's store, Crewcuts, just opened in Seattle at the University Village. Exciting stuff. I didn't waste any time getting down there and my oh my is the stuff cute. I have to say it is all cuter in person than it is on the website. Take this little dress for example. It might not catch my eye on the website but in the store it is irresistible (with a flax colored background). This little utility jacket is super cute and could work for a boy or a girl. I might be able to justify that purchase since I could use it for the little lady and the baby boy on the way. All the skirts are super cute too. The clothes aren't cheap but they seem to be great quality. Has anyone bought from them before? How do the clothes hold up on active little ones? Please share with us!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Simple But Delicious Salad

My friend Jen gave me this salad recipe years ago and we eat it all the time. It's one I always go back to when I want something simple that everyone will enjoy. It compliments a flavorful main course really well so it's easy to pair with most anything.

Simple But Delicious Salad

1 head romaine
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved into long swirls with a peeler (much prettier than pictured)

2 cloves garlic, boil for 10 minutes then mash into a paste
2-3 t Dijon mustard
3 T white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from one large lemon wedge
1/4 t salt
Freshly ground pepper

Combine ingredients in a small jar and shake until you get a creamy texture. Toss dressing over salad and serve. I like to set aside a few pretty pieces of cheese for the top of each salad plate if serving it as it's own course.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chicken Piccata - All Time Fave

One of my all time favorite dinners is chicken piccata and nobody does it better than my mother-in-law. I've tried Giada's recipe which is quite good but the M-I-L has it down. She doesn't cook by a recipe so it's hard to hammer down the details. I've watched her make it a dozen times and I still can't make it as good as her but tonight's was pretty darn close. Here's my version, using both my M-I-L and Giada's as guidance.

I served my chicken piccata with white rice (so good with sauce on it), steamed broccoli (drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice) and a great simple salad that my friend Jen told me about (coming soon!).

Chicken Piccata

2 or 3 chicken breasts, skinless & boneless, butterflied and pounded thin*
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup bread crumbs
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
garlic salt
5-6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup capers
1/3 cup sherry
1 3/4 cup chicken stock

1 T cornstarch
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Juice of one lemon

Whisk cornstarch into chicken stock to combine, then set aside. Saute mushrooms in a tablespoon or two of butter, then set aside.

Mix flour and bread crumbs together on a large plate. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. While you wait for it to heat up, season chicken breasts with kosher salt, garlic salt, and pepper. Dredge into flour/bread crumb mixture. Add chicken to pan and cook for a few minutes on each side until it's golden brown. Remove and transfer to plate. Add remaining butter and oil and repeat with the rest of the chicken.

Reduce heat to low and add a touch of olive oil if needed. Add garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add capers, then add sherry, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour in lemon juice and chicken stock mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add mushrooms, parsley and more pepper.

Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5-15 minutes, moving the chicken around so each piece gets coated in sauce. Serve with white rice. Spoon sauce over chicken and rice.

* I hate working with raw chicken so I asked the guys at the meat counter to butterfly and pound the chicken breasts for me. They weren't busy today so they were happy to do it. Great time-saving trick too!

Making Life Easier, One Gadget at a Time

We just got back from a little vaca in LA and I was reminded of all the things that make my life easier while traveling with a little one. I love love love the GoGo Kidz TravelMate. It attaches to your car seat and you can wheel your little one around through the hassles of checking in at the airport, getting through security and right on down the tunnel to the plane. We let security know that it was too big to go through the x-ray machine so we wouldn't have to bother with separating the car seat from the TravelMate. They scanned it on the side and then we planted our tiny lady right back in it. She gets a fun little ride around the airport so she was happy, and most importantly easy. You can gate check the car seat or use it on the plane if your child has their own seat. If you do a lot of traveling, it's worth investing in one. We love ours and highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Cutest Cupcake Toppers

Maybe I'm partial since she's my niece but I think these photo cupcake toppers are the cutest things I've ever seen. Check out the amazingly talented Bug & Boo who made these little cuties.
Bug & Boo offers some of the cutest photo cupcake toppers, cake toppers and other personalized goodies that I've seen yet. The finished products were beautiful and flawless. I could never make handmade pieces to such perfection. Also, check out the Bug & Boo blog to see what they've been working on and get ideas of what they could do for your next party. I love the various animal cupcake toppers. Perfect for an animal themed party.

Freezer of Love

I had some veggies that were past their prime, in my opinion, but not so bad that they should be thrown out. And since I'm becoming so much more anal about using every last morsel in my fridge, I thought no way am I letting that stuff go bad. So I threw it all in a pot and made a great batch of veggie stock. It only took a few minutes to prep, several hours to cook and voila, a few jars of veggie stock for the freezer. I didn't waste the food and I'll save money by not needing to buy veggie stock the next few times I need it. It's the little things that make me proud. I also love adding items to my anniversary freezer.

I have a little list of what I put in the freezer and what I take out because once that sucker is full I know things will get pushed to the back and be forgotten. So far I have my to-die-for supply of chicken stock, some veggie stock, prawn stock (great for spicy black bean prawns!), carrot lemongrass soup, smoothie pops and a huge tub of my most favorite ice cream on earth... Olympic Mountain spumoni ice cream. It is like no spumoni you've ever tasted and I cannot live long without it so we had to beg our favorite restaurant to sell us a tub (it's not sold in stores sadly). That was part of the deal with the 5-year anniversary freezer. I needed something to make it romantic so I told my husband he had to fill it with my favorite ice cream on earth. He also brings it in from the garage every time I need a fix. He is too good to me.

I have to thank Jess Thomsonn of Hogwash for inspiring me (via KUOW) to cook up some great food now, while it's chilly, so I have great stuff to grab when the sun is shining and I'm not interested in being at the hot stove. If you don't have a separate freezer, you could always clean out your regular one (who doesn't need to do that?!) and make space for some goodies for another day.