Monday, November 30, 2009

Healthy Snack

Photo courtesy of Alexandra's Kitchen

Edamame is an easy and healthy snack to make at home for adults and kids alike. It's sold in the frozen foods section and takes only a few minutes to cook... boil water, cook for 2-5 minutes, drain, sprinkle with kosher salt or sea salt and serve. When eating myself or serving adults I like to sprinkle with kosher salt, paprika, cayenne and red chili flakes. They're extra good with that little added kick. Don't forget about this healthy option for snack time!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More on Melamine Plates

And speaking of melamine plates, my sister-in-law was eyeing these Greek Key cuties from They also carry a big selection of melamine plates if you're on the hunt.
Target also carries some cute melamine plate sets like this Blue Grid Melamine Dinnerware. I would love these for an outdoor brunch in the summer with some great glasses and pretty linens. How fun to mix it up whenever entertaining outdoors.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas Gift Idea # 6


As I'm sure you all experience, I get a million email sale alerts and coupons every day. It's enough that I just stop paying attention, but every one in awhile I will give it a click and see if anything catches my eye. I recently received an email about a sale at Horchow and since it's been ages since I checked out the site, I took a quick gander. I came upon these chic Personalized Melamine Plates. I knew I had to blog about them so I went hunting for a photo and found the company LA PLATES that specializes in these plates. Searching further I found the company Freddy & Ma that also sells custom plates although they don't offer the initial or monogram option. They do have a great library of patterns though.
These plates would be such a stylish way to liven up your table setting. They would make a thoughtful gift for a friend or family member who loves to host dinner parties or other events. You could pick the perfect plate to match their individual style. Great for outdoor entertaining too since they're unbreakable.

The Cross, Vancouver B.C.

We only made it to a few stores in Vancouver but we did discover a great store in the Yaletown district called The Cross Design & Decor. It was a beautiful store for housewares, gifts, decorating and more. It reminded me a lot of the fabulous Great Jones Home store in Seattle. I was tempted to buy at every turn. I couldn't resist some beautiful frames, ornaments, and decorative pieces for my home (none featured on the website sadly). Here are a few of the things I loved but had to walk away from...

Empress Arts Ruffle Front Dress (much cuter in person)

Silver Elephant Bank

Simrin Linen Placemats (for a fun and quirky table setting)

Fernando Boher Collection Silhouettes (for my son's room)

Wrap It Up

I did a little Etsy-ing the other day and found these great gift tags. I love the white on white letterpress....

I also found some amazing gift tags at Pottery Barn. They are marketing them as "Glitter Paper Letter Ornaments". I can't find them on the website but trust me, they are great and worth a stop into the store. They are large round tags with black letters and silver sparkles around the edge. There's a black ribbon and a little bell tied to it as well. Perfect tag for a wrapped gift or tied to a bottle of wine as a hostess gift. You could also use them as garland and spell out "Happy New Year" if you're hosting a little soiree for the holiday.

And speaking of lettered tags, I've always loved these on a wrapped gift or bottle of wine...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Great Holiday Appetizer


My aunt is a great cook but she doesn't have a ton of time so she's always coming up with recipes that are super quick to prepare but very good. She served this appetizer at her house a few weeks ago and I loved it so much that I made it for Thanksgiving day. It was a hit. I also love the presentation and think it's perfect for the holidays.

Jadine's Cranberry Goat Cheese Spread

2 packages of plain goat cheese
1 container "Cranberry Celebration" (available in the specialty cheese section at QFC)
3 T Grand Marnier
pinch or two of cayenne pepper
lots of freshly ground black pepper
herbs for garnish (I used oregano)
french baguette, sliced

Put goat cheese packages in the freezer for 10 minutes. Wile you're waiting, put cranberry sauce in a bowl and mix with Grand Marnier, pepper and cayenne pepper. Remove goat cheese and slice into 1/4 inch coins. I like to use an old school egg slicer like the one shown below. It makes perfect little coins. Put coins on a platter and cover with sauce. Garnish with something green and serve with baguette.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmas Gift Idea #5

My husband loves this Dave Pelz's Truth Board and always uses it while watching golf or football on TV. Great gift for the golfer in your life who needs to work on his putting skills.

"To start draining short putts like a pro, try Dave Pelz's Truth Board. This ramp, three and a half feet long and covered with artificial turf, has a small mirror behind the ball spot to help you get your eyes directly over the ball. The hole is smaller than regulation and can be made even smaller with minor adjustments. When you can make a few dozen in a row on the Truth Board, the cups on the course will look like buckets, and only your opponents will be nervous when you stand over short putts."

Christmas Gift Ideas Galore

I thought we could revisit two posts for some more Christmas gift ideas for the chef in your life or for our own wish list. Check out the post about my favorite things in the kitchen and the one about the hostess gift made up of more favorite items.

And for various other ideas, click through the sections on bambinos, gifts pour moi (things I buy myself or want to buy myself) and gifts pour vous (gift ideas to buy someone else). Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Most Memorable Meals

My husband and I love to talk about our favorite restaurants and reminisce about our most memorable meals. While on our drive home from Vancouver B.C. I mentioned Gwyneth's recent GOOP newsletter featuring the most memorable meals from the likes of Mario Batali and the founders of Food52. It prompted another conversation about our most memorable meals and here's what we came up with...

Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
Always amazing start to finish.

Matsuhisa, Los Angeles
Chef's Choice in the Private Chef's Room, amazing experience.

Delicious Moroccan food. One of my top three meals ever.

Amazing lunch and fun people watching.

Crazy for the mixed grilled fish, caught fresh that day. Lunch on the patio is heaven on earth.
Santa Lucia, Florence
Best pizza on earth.

Al Veluu, Lake Como
Family owned restaurant serving food from their garden.

Canlis, Seattle
Always wonderful for special occasions.

La Medusa, Seattle
I had the most fun and delicious birthday dinner. Quite the memorable night with great friends.

Attention Kmart Shoppers


Time to hurry your little selves on down to your local Kmart to snag up all the great Martha Stewart ornaments. As you might recall from last year, my Christmas tree is always packed with her glitter balls, glitter branches, traditional balls, snowflakes and more. I love stocking up every year on her affordable ornaments to give my tree the biggest bang for the buck. For as many lights and ornaments as I put on my tree, I always think it could use more. You can also order Martha's ornaments online and it looks like they are offering various shopping incentives (sale on Christmas items, free shipping).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chunky Chicken Chili

My friend Melissa (and my daughter's energetic and patient pre-school teacher) gave me this recipe for Chunky Chicken Chili. It's so easy and so good. It reminded me of Martha's Posole but this recipe was even easier. My husband said how good it was at least half a dozen times saying things like, "This is good. This is eat-too-much-good". And we did. Thank goodness there's a bowl left over for tomorrow's lunch. Next time I might double the recipe for more leftovers.

Chunky Chicken Chili

(I adjusted the recipe ever so slightly because I only had two chicken breasts and the recipe called for four. I added extra beans to make up for the missing chicken.)

For Chili
2 or 3 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground corriander
1 cup mild or hot tomatillo salsa
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cans (15oz) cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed
1 handful of fresh cilantro, minced
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

For Garnish
Sour cream
Tortilla chips (Have'A Corn Chip tortilla chips are the best ever!)
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (or Mexican blend)
Lime wedges
Avocado, cubed

Preheat oven to 350. Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry. Place in a small casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil and lots of salt and pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool, then shred it.

In a large stock pot, heat oil and cook onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Be careful not to brown onion. Add garlic and jalapeno. Cook for a few minutes. Add cumin and coriander and stir to combine. Add green salsa & chicken stock. Bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat and add half of the beans. Mash the other half in the can, then add to chili. This will help thicken the chili. Add shredded chicken and simmer for 10 minutes (I simmered for over an hour waiting for the husband). Remove from heat and serve with condiments.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vij's Indian fusion lives up to all the hype...

My little family headed to Vancouver, B.C. for the weekend and one of our priorities was to hit the famous Indian restaurant Vij's. We heard there's always a painfully long wait so we planned to get there before doors opened at 5:30. Well apparently that's everyone's trick because we got there at 5:15 and there was already a line of people out the door, standing in the freezing cold and pouring rain. I jumped in line and as my toes turned numb I wondered how great this place could really be. The Indian food I've had in Seattle is all pretty much the same. Well much to our surprise and excitement, it was well worth the wait (and the frozen toes).

When we were first seated the waitstaff brought some delicious chai tea (recipe featured on their website) and various little snacks to munch on while we looked over the menu. We ordered the pork tenderloin, chicken with chantrelle mushrooms, a chickpea and kale appetizer, and their signature dish - the lamb popsicles. It was all fantastic and nothing like the basic Indian dishes we're used to (chicken tikka masala, butter chicken, etc). The sauces were much more complex and flavorful.

If you ever venture to Vancouver, I highly recommend stopping in to Vij's for some sophisticated Indian fare. And if you love it, you can always buy their cookbook here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Curried Butternut Squash Soup w/ Coconut Milk

.Photo courtesy of TasteFood

I thought my Roasted Butternut Squash Soup was great for a basic recipe, but after making it twice in two weeks, I wanted to try something a little different for week three. It's one of my favorite soups on earth and I've never tried one I didn't like so it's always fun to try a new variation. I'm a fan of Ina's Curried Butternut Squash Soup with coconut, banana, scallions and cashews as toppings (featured in her Back to Basics cookbook). This time I was inspired by the recipe for Golden Squash Soup using curry and coconut milk as featured in the daily newsletter I get from The World's Healthiest Foods. Here's my version. It may be my favorite one yet.

Curried Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

2 medium to large size butternut squash
2 T olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 medium shallot, diced
5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 T fresh ginger, minced
1/2 Honeycrisp apple, cut into chunks
8 cups chicken broth
1 t curry
1/4 t coriander
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 can coconut milk (I used light because it's what I had on hand but regular would be fine too)

Heat oven to 400. Cut squash into quarters and place cut-side down on a nonstick baking sheet rubbed with a bit of olive oil. Pour about 1/4 cup water over the squash, and roast for 45 min-1 hour, until it's fork-tender. Allow to cool. Remove seeds and scoop out the flesh.

In large stock pot, heat oil and cook onion over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes. Add shallots, ginger and garlic and saute for a few minutes making sure not to brown onions or garlic. Add herbs and stir, then add squash, apple and stock. Season with salt & pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes (or more).

Stir in coconut milk. Then use a hand-held immersion blender or puree soup in a blender until smooth.

Return to the pot and check seasoning. Stir in cilantro and serve.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Christmas Gift Idea #4

I saw this GO Mini Steamer in the latest Martha Stewart LIVING. This little guy is only 8" tall and comes in 9 colors. Perfect to pack in your bag when traveling for a quick steam to all those wrinkles. And small enough for a stocking stuffer. Might have to order one of these for my own stocking.

New Tiny TOMS

I just came across these new Silver Glitter Mary Jane Tiny TOMS in their most recent catalog. Pretty darn cute!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Custom Silhouettes

Stephanie Nielson (aka "Nie Nie") of the sweet and insanely inspiring Nie Nie Dialogues is making custom silhouettes. Order yours now. I'm getting one made of my daughter for my mother-in-law's birthday gift.

Sweet Potato Fries

Last week I made sweet potato fries for the first time. You can season them any way you like but I decided to do paprika and cayenne for a little spice. They were SO good.

Sweet Potato Fries

sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into long strips
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Toss fries with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes. Toss and bake for 10 more minutes. Check to see how much longer they need (0-10 more minutes depending on their size). Once they're pretty much ready to go, turn oven to broil and cook for a few minutes to make them crisp (watching closely so they don't burn). Remove and serve.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Gift Idea #3

I came across this jewelry at the Flora & Henri store opening. I thought they were such feminine pieces perfect for every day. I like the ring with the single green stone and the gold mirror ball ring worn together and love the delicate little necklaces. Great gift idea for a mom, sister or friend, or something for your own wish list.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Farmers Market Goods & Weekly Meal Plan

The last week has been a busy one but I'm back, and ready to blog! Here's my usual Sunday post... weekly meal plan using all my farmers market goods.

BLTAs (My husband and I are both currently obsessed with Old Mill oat bran bread. It's delicious for toast with butter and jam, grilled cheese or BLTs.)
Caesar Salad (no chicken)

Butternut Squash Soup (I'm going to try some variation of this Golden Squash Soup)
Roasted Curried Cauliflower
Arugula Salad

Chicken in Wine Sauce (Didn't end up making this last week. Made Chicken Dijon instead and served with caesar salad and spaghetti with browned butter and mizithra cheese. Great dinner!)
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Lemon and Pistachios
Roasted Parsnips

Lunch - Lentil Soup
Dinner plans with friends

Lunch - Lentil Soup
Dinner plans with friends

Lunch - Curried Chicken Wraps, for our road trip up to Vancouver, BC
Dinner - the famous Indian restaurant Vij's (can't wait!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Master of Disguise


My daughter's favorite thing right now is macaroni and cheese. It's not my favorite thing to feed her (especially when I'm slaving over home cooked meals) but with a crying newborn and a whining two-year old, I've been giving in a lot just to quiet down the kitchen.
That said, I do what I can to make it a healthy meal. I start with Annie's Organic Mac & Cheese. Then I sneak in a little veggie that she doesn't know is there. I realized the trick to this is you must start early on, before they're smart enough to recognize that the little green specks aren't normal. One day I added an entire grated zucchini. She had no clue. You could even peel it first if you were worried your child would boycott the green. The zucchini worked so well that I gave kale a shot. That worked too. Amazing! Today I added minced parsley, red kale and a few spoonfuls of my butternut squash soup. Gobbled it up! Next up - spinach. Every little bit of nutrients counts when your stomach is the size of a golf ball.
In addition, I always add freshly grated cheddar cheese to the pan when I'm mixing it and then grate parmesan cheese on top. It's my way of getting some real dairy into the meal since my child won't drink milk and I can't imagine powdered cheese offers much calcium. The cheese also helps hide the flavor of my hidden greens.
Give it a shot with your little tot! And don't forget that smoothies are another great way to sneak veggies in.

Christmas Gift Idea #2

Here's a fun gift idea for your kiddos... The Silver Spoon for Children - a cookbook full of 40 kid-friendly recipes for kids ages 8 and up. And it sounds like they're not just kid recipes - they're things you would like to eat too so you can cook together and eat together.

Christmas Gift Idea #1

I decided to do another round of Christmas gift ideas this holiday season. I just discovered item number one: the Instax Mini 7S Camera from Fujifilm as seen in The New York Times Style Magazine. I'm crazy about taking pictures so how exciting to have these fun new credit card size, Polaroid style photos. This would definitely be on my Christmas wish list if I were making one this year.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Easy Pumpkin Cheesecakes - YUM!


Every year around Thanksgiving I like to make these William Sonoma Miniature Pumpkin Cheesecakes with Cinnamon Crust using their Pecan Pumpkin Butter. I don't have the pumpkin shaped tins but love their little Mini Muffin Pans. Serve these little guys with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it's the perfect size dessert. Could be a great dessert for Thanksgiving if you want to mix it up a bit - getting away from pumpkin pie but still getting the flavors of the holiday. Great recipe and super easy.

Guest Blogger Post - Vietnamese Salad Rolls

. .
I'm so excited to have another guest blogger post, this time from my friend Tara. Tara and I met while working together at Anthousa and have been friends ever since. We hit it off realizing we shared so many of the same interests and can always share a good laugh. I credit her for first introducing me to the farmers markets which clearly was life changing for me. She is so well traveled and knowledgeable on everything from naturopathic medicine, nutrition, yoga, sewing, childbirth (she studied midwifery) and more. She is also a great influence for not taking life too seriously and always having a good time.
Whenever we get together, the conversation inevitably turns to food. This is a recipe she's mentioned before that I'm dying to try. (Thanks Tara!)


My nine year old daughter has always had an interesting palate. As an infant I couldn't get a single bite of baby food past her lips, yet she quickly developed a taste for curry, ate salsa as soup, and the amount of raw fish and tabiko she can put down at a sushi restaurant would shock any mother. Over the last few years she has developed a love for cooking. If any of you have worked with kids in the kitchen, I'm sure you can relate when I say there is no bigger test of patients in motherhood. I cringe when the flour goes flying or eggs fall to the floor while I'm climbing up a ladder to get the noodles off the walls that she has flung up there to test for doneness. As difficult as it can be right now, I feel it's important to cultivate this new hobby. I've learned over the last few years that the more I allow her to help in the kitchen, the more likely she is to try new foods, and it gives me a opportunity to talk about the importance of making healthy choices without completely annoying her. Lately, one of our favorite things to make together is Vietnamese salad rolls. These rolls may seem intimidating to make at home as they use ingredients that most of us are not familiar with. And, although I make these with my 9 year old daughter, I can assure you they will rival any appetizer at the most sophisticated dinner party.

I know there are many different types of salad rolls out there and probably quite a few that use more authentic ingredients, but we love the fresh, simple taste of these:

Vietnamese Salad Rolls


1 package of spring roll skins
1 8oz package of bean thread noodles (there are 3 sections of noodles in this package. I only use two of the sections)
1 head of lettuce (I use the upper half or tip of the leaf as the stiffer lower half tends not to roll so well.)
1 cucumber cut in half length wise, seeds removed and julienned, about 4 inches long
3 -4 carrots julienned, same length as cucumber
1 package of extra firm tofu. We sometimes substitute shrimp, sauteed and cut in half lengthwise.
Mint leaves - if you like.

Dipping Sauce

Peanut butter
Hoisin sauce

Prepare all the ingredients that you want in the rolls first. "Julienne" the tofu into long skinny squares as seen in the picture. This time I used tofu that came flavored and put it in the rolls cold, but usually I marinate plain tofu in a little soy sauce and fry it for a few minutes in oil.
Boil the bean thread noodles according to the directions, about 4 minutes. Drain the noodles and run them under cold water until they are completely cooled. They won't get too sticky for at least a half hour.
Gather the lettuce, julienned cucumber, carrots, and mint (if you like). Boil about 6 cups of water and pour about half an inch into a shallow, flat pot that is larger than the spring roll skins. I use a pie dish. Set up your rolling station with all of the items you want to put in your rolls and a clean dish towel to roll on. Place one spring roll skin in the bowl of boiled water for about 20 seconds. It will become soft and should feel like an al dente noodle. These are inexpensive, so you might want to buy extra and try it out a few times. You might need to refresh the boiled water as it begins to cool, it should be at about 110 degrees.
Lay the skin down on the towel and stretch the sheet slightly to remove any wrinkles. Line the bottom third of the wet, pliable spring roll skin with the ingredients you have prepared. I start with the top half of a piece of lettuce and layer everything on top of that, unless I'm using shrimp. Then I put the shrimp down first so it will show through the rice paper. Make sure the ingredients are neatly placed in a straight row. Make sure they are not clumped together in the center, but evenly distributed from one end to the other. I use about 2 pieces of each ingredient and about a 1/4 cup of the noodles.
Press down on the ingredients while you fold over both sides of the rice paper. (Pressing down on the ingredients is particularly important because it tightens the roll.) With fingers still pressing down, use your thumb and first finger to fold the bottom edge over the filling and roll into a cylinder about 1-1/2 inches wide by 5 inches long. Finish making all the remaining rolls.
Cut the rolls in half and serve with dipping sauce. If I'm not going to eat these right away, I store them between wet paper towels covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

Dipping sauce: Equal parts peanut butter and hoisin sauce thinned to your liking with water - gourmet!

Farmers Market Goods & Weekly Meal Plan

I loaded up at the market this morning and just planned out my week's meals. I should preface this by saying that I'm not always great about sticking with my meal plans. For one reason or another, something always gets flip flopped (arugula won't last until Wednesday, chicken hasn't thawed yet, missing an ingredient for a recipe, etc). That said, I think as long as you have a basic outline, enough food and some creativity, you can mix it up as needed.

Here's my menu plan for this week....

BLTAs (using my favorite bacon from the market and delicious bread)
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Leftover Butternut Squash Soup, Arugula Salad

Christopher’s Texas Pecan Crusted Halibut in Tomato Orange Sauce
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Lemon and Pistachios
Brown rice

Potato Leek Soup
Sauteed Red Kale (with onion and bacon)

Chicken in Wine Sauce
Roasted Parsnips

Momma's night off as you know

Other (will use for lunch or another side dish for dinner one night)
Sweet Potato Fries (new recipe)
Braised Cabbage (new recipe)

More Homework

Here's another homework assignment for you... If you haven't tried a Honeycrisp Apple, you need to get on down to the grocery store or farmers market and get some. They are SO good and right now they are the only non-sugar item that can satisfy my non-stop sweet tooth. I like them plain, sliced with cheddar cheese slices (grew up eating that as a snack) and use them in my smoothies. They are so sweet, crisp and delicious. You will love, I promise!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Homework Assignment

Food, Inc. is finally out on DVD. Rent it!

If you're someone who reads books like Omnivore's Dilemma, Food Matters or Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, then you're the perfect audience for this movie. And if you don't read those types of books, all the more reason to watch this movie so you can get a glimpse of what's going on with our food supply.

My mom, husband and I watched it last night. We were all equally glad we took the time to watch it.

Beware - it's disturbing.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Crazy for Etsy

The beauty of (and trouble with) Etsy is that you start looking for one thing and end up finding dozens of other great items. I started out looking for custom silhouettes so I could get one of my daughter and niece for my mother-in-law. Next thing I know I'm buying Goldfinch and Pussywillow Personalized Bookplates for the kids. How cute are these little guys?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oh How I Need These...

I would love a few of these Dransfield & Ross Laundry Totes to help manage my endless cycle of laundry. Right now I use an enormous wicker basket that's too heavy and awkward to carry once it fills up. Wouldn't these be lovely?!

Attn: Moms-To-Be

New reports on Tuesday announced that there's a link between a common antibiotic used to treat urinary infections and birth defects when prescribed to pregnant women. Read the Time Magazine article here or the article here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ah, Comfy

I'm digging these Newbark handmade leather flats. A fun change of pace from your basic ballet flat. Pricey little fellas though ($350). Featured in The New York Times Style section last month.