Monday, January 30, 2012

Orange Ricotta Pancakes Updated

I've made these orange ricotta pancakes several times in the last few weeks and found that I like the recipe better with less ricotta. It happened twice on accident because I didn't have enough ricotta so I used some milk and I felt they turned out more flavorful and not as dense and heavy. So here is my version. My whole family gobbles these up.

Orange Ricotta Pancakes
Inspired by Everybody Loves Sandwiches

1/2 cup ricotta (the best whole milk ricotta you can find)
4-5 T milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 large orange
1 t vanilla
2/3 cup flour

1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ricotta, milk, eggs, sugar, zest and vanilla. Gently fold in the flour and stir to combine.

2. Melt better over medium-high heat in a cast iron frying pan or griddle. Add a large tablespoon of batter for each pancake, slightly smoothing over the tops. I like to make smaller pancakes because they cook beautifully and then everyone feels like they got to have several.

3. Cook until lightly browned on both sides. The edges start to curl up a bit. This is not a problem.

4. Serve hot with maple syrup.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Come One, Come All


My friend Beth is the VP of Public Relations & Special Events for Barneys and is coming to Seattle for an event at the store. Barneys is celebrating Simon Doonan's latest book "Gay Men Don't Get Fat". Come down to the store Thursday night (5-7pm) to meet Simon and pick up a signed copy of his book. RSVP to the event at 206-622-6300 ext 221. Should be fun. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Look of the Day: Kate Bosworth


Always a style icon in my book.

Just Lean a Little

I came across this article on Facebook, thanks to my friend Jen Young. It's an interesting piece on the Vegan diet. Worth reading even if you have no interest in cutting meat. It might at least make you eat more fruits and veg.

"The Evidence for a Vegan Diet"

Sorry JQ - I know you hate the Vegan posts! ;-)

Golden Beetle


My friend Marly and I took a cooking class from Maria Hines, owner of Golden Beetle. The food was great and the recipes approachable. Within days I tried all the recipes at home and loved them. To round out the week, of course I needed to revisit her restaurant and have the recipes as they are truly meant to be served (down to the homemade flatbread and every other perfected ingredient). Once again I had a great meal there. I really enjoy her menu and creations. It's also a good menu for those wanting to eat vegetarian or pescatarian. So many great options that it's hard to decide what to get. Here's what we settled on.

Vega Murillo Verdejo, Rueda, Spain ’09

Wood Fired Flat Bread
Muhammara Dip - walnut, pomegranate molasses, extra virgin olive oil

Baby Spinach Salad - apple, kasseri cheese, sumac vinaigrette

Small Plates
Toasted Couscous - preserved lemon, sultana, celery
Grilled Halloumi Cheese - roasted beet, arugula, herb vinaigrette
Spanakopita - baby spinach, feta, phyllo
Roasted Cauliflower - currants, caraway, turmeric
Lamb Kibbeh Meatballs - lamb, date sauce, grilled eggplant

Turkish Baklava

I might not get the lamb meatballs again only because I'm eating less meat so I want things that really leave an impression (like her lamb tagine did on my last visit). Everything else was incredible.


Collaboration Nation

Here's an interesting article my friend Marly told me about. 

"The Rise of the New Groupthink"


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Reinforce Your Willpower


Interesting article about how to succeed with your New Year's resolutions.

"Be It Resolved"

Friday, January 20, 2012

Modern Love

I love these "Modern Love" articles from the Sunday Styles section. Here is another good one....

"A Place to Lay My Heart"


I Heart You Exclamation Point!


Sometimes when I proof an email I realize every single sentence ends with an exclamation point. I try to weed some out, but where? I love them. I'm a lover and a user of three in a row and the question mark/exclamation mark combo. I can't resist it sometimes. I've had to clean up my act writing the blog, but I'm still quite guilty of over-use in email. I guess I'll try harder.

On that note, your article for the day....
"Talking (Exclamation) Points"


Flu Prevention

Whether or not you get a flu shot, there are things you can do to help with flu prevention. Here are some recommendations from my naturopath on how to get good immune support through flu season.

For general immune support:

- Take Vitamin D daily  (5,000 IUs/day through the winter)
- Take a Pro-Flora Concentrate Probiotic (1 capsule/day)

At the first sign of feeling sick:

- Up your Vitamin D to 30,000 IUs (take 10k - 3 times/day)
- Take ViraClear (1.5ml 3 x day)
- Take ACES+Zinc

If symptoms include sore throat:

- Do salt water gargles
- Do black tea gargles

And as always, my favorite flu prevention or cold remedy is Get Well Tea or Chaco Canyon's Flu Buster.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Interactive Art



I read about Ryan Molenkamp’s Portrait Challenge project awhile back and thought it was so creative. After people went nuts for the interactive art project at Bumpershoot, a new Portrait Challenge was presented at the Seattle Art Museum. (It's not currently showing. It took me a year to post this.) 

You could use this idea as inspiration for a fun kids art project for school, a birthday or play date, or you could make it a funny game for your next adult cocktail party or big birthday bash (everyone could draw the guest of honor). Some good clean fun that could be made all the funnier after a few cocktails. 


Shoe of the Day



Snowed In


We're snowed in so I'm forced to be creative with meals. I found some ricotta in the fridge leftover from our Pasta with Tomato Sauce & Ricotta two nights ago. Ricotta and an orange and you have yourself some delicious Orange Ricotta Pancakes.

I didn't have enough ricotta so I threw in some milk. Turned out great. I make them on the small side. I think they cook better and are cute. Great served with sour cherry jam or good old fashioned butter and syrup. Delish!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chickpeas and Kale

I took a cooking class last week taught by Maria Hines, the owner of Golden Beetle and Tilth. I walked away with several great recipes. One recipe was for Poached Spot Prawns with Chickpeas and Lacinato Kale. It was great but my favorite part was the chickpea and kale mixture. I made it last night as a side, and ate it today as my lunch. I can't get enough kale so it's always fun to have a new way to prepare it.

I loved the flavor of the preserved lemon in this dish. There were no spices listed on the recipe but I followed Maria's lead and threw some in. I used cumin, harissa, sumac, salt and pepper. Maria used canned garbanzo beans in the cooking class but says she always uses dried beans in her restaurants. I used dried garbanzo beans from the farmers market, soaked overnight and cooked for about 30 minutes. They were delicious, creamy and smooth.

Chickpeas and Kale
Inspired by Maria Hines recipe

2 T olive oil
2 T shallot, finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2-1 preserved lemon peel, thinly sliced, then cut in half
1-2 cups chickpeas
1/4 t cumin
1/8 t harissa
1/4 t sumac
1 bunch (4-8 cups) lacinato kale, stems removed, leaves cut into thin strips
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

In a large skillet head the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute for a few minutes until soft. Add garlic and preserved lemon and saute being careful not to burn garlic. Add chickpeas and spices. Saute and add more olive oil if needed. Add kale and saute for 5-15 minutes until kale leaves are cooked to desired texture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Serve as a salad, as a side to chicken or fish, or as a vegetarian main course.

The Love of My Life

Tomatoes are the love of my life (after my hubby and kids I suppose). I am so obsessed with tomatoes that it dictates a few of my summer months - getting to the market, selecting the right combination from Billy's, preparing salads, caprese and pastas to eat, and cooking up soups and sauces to freeze. I am wild about good tomatoes. So, you can imagine my delight when I came across a new vendor at the Ballard farmers market two weeks ago. Tomato Goodness  is selling jarred tomato sauces using all fresh, local, organic ingredients - including Billy's tomatoes. I was so excited. Last night I used my jar of Summer Sauce (tomato sauce with basil and roasted garlic) and it was delicious. It was good enough to just use as is, but I wanted to try a new recipe so I dolled it up a bit.

I used Rustichella d'Abruzzo Strozzapretti noodles that I bought at Delaurenti. I love that brand of noodles in any shape. I also bought really good ricotta at Delaurenti. It's nice to buy cheese there because it's not pre-packaged so you can buy smaller amounts of really great quality cheese for less.

My husband and I both loved this pasta. It was easy to make, simple flavors, but very fresh tasting. The ricotta was a fun new flavor to have in pasta too.

Pasta with Tomato Sauce & Ricotta
Inspired by Rachel Eats

1T olive oil (or more)
1/2 T butter
1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 t minced garlic
1 jar Tomato Goodness Summer Sauce
1 package noodles
1/2 cup good ricotta cheese

Fill a large pot with water and place over medium heat.

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft. Then add carrots and saute for a few minutes, then celery, then garlic. Once everything is softened (careful not to burn), add the tomato sauce and a sprinkle of salt. Simmer for an hour.

Bring your pan with water to a boil. Season with salt (enough to taste like the sea), then cook noodles until al dente. Using a strainer or skimmer, remove pasta and transfer to the sauce pan, adding noodles one scoop at a time until it's the right balance. (I like my noodles saucy). Stir to coat.

Put noodles in bowls and top with a dollop of ricotta cheese.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chocolate Banana Muffins: Breakfast or Dessert?


I say both!

One of my very first blog posts, just a few weeks into starting Over Cocktails, was Going Bananas about making a few different recipes for banana muffins. Last night I got the itch for banana muffins and as usual, I couldn't make them just one way.

My friend Jennie said that she puts chocolate chips in her banana bread so I thought I'd try that with the muffins. I used the Epicurious recipe for Banana Macadamia Nut Muffins. I pulled some batter right before adding the nuts and used chocolate chips instead. When they came out of the oven and those chocolate chips were warm and oozing, they were deeeeeeeelicious. A perfect dessert. They were still delicious this morning served cold with coffee. A perfect breakfast. I did the rest with macadamia nuts like the recipe calls for and the kids gobbled those up for breakfast. Going forward I will always split the recipe. It's fun to have both nutty and sweet.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dogsledding in Denmark


I bought the latest issue of National Geographic because the cover photo and feature article on twins caught my eye. It was a very interesting article but I was especially captivated by the life of the brave souls on the world’s only military dogsled team. Read the article "The Cold Patrol", then check out the photo gallery. Amazing. I wouldn't last 10 minutes up there.

Friday, January 13, 2012

1 Down, 364 To Go


I just got the new William Sonoma Soup of The Day cookbook with a gift card from Christmas and am off to an exciting start. I made the Chickpea & Roasted Tomato Soup with Fried Rosemary last night and loved it. It is the one pictured on the cover of the book. My husband thought it was ok but I thought it was deeeeeeeeeeeeeeelicious. I loved everything about it - the texture, the flavors, the hint of cinnamon, the fried rosemary. And, it was super easy to make.

Get the recipe here on page 9.

I used canned organic whole tomatoes since there's not a great tomato in town this time of year. They turned out great. I am going to roast canned tomatoes more often. I used homemade chicken stock because I think it makes soup taste better, but I don't think it's necessary for this recipe if you don't have any. I used dried garbanzo beans from the farmers market. I soaked them overnight, then cooked them shortly before adding to the soup. Turned out great.

A few tips on cooking with dried beans... according to the wise folks at Rancho Gordo (who sell great dried beans by the way!!!), the fresher the beans, the faster they cook. There is no regulation on dried beans so a lot of what is sold in grocery stores, whether packaged or in the bulk foods section, can be as many as 10 years old (even older they said). If you order beans from a good source, or buy dried beans at your local farmers market, they will be fresher and will cook much faster. Everything on the Internet said that dried, soaked beans would take 2-3 hours to cook but mine cooked up in 20-30 minutes. That makes a big difference when you're trying to cook a quick dinner and haven't done all the prep. 

Rancho Gordo also advises that you not put any salt in the water when you cook dried beans. Have you ever had a bean that would not cook? They say that salt is often to blame. It causes the beans to close up so they won't cook. They become dry and grainy on the inside instead of creamy and smooth. (Keep this in mind when you make any of my soup recipes that say to salt the water when cooking the beans. Hold off until your beans are fully cooked. I'm too lazy to update all my recipes.)

I love it when the first recipe from a cookbook is great. It gives you motivation to keep working your way through the book. Stay tuned to hear about more soups as I try to work my way through the other 364 recipes. It could take years.....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shit We Say

These "Shit Girls Say" videos are hilarious. I can't stop laughing about a few lines.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cocktail Anyone?

Photo credit: Oh Joy!

My husband's aunt and uncle always give great Christmas gifts and this year they gave us a few specialty liquors and drinks. The first one we've tried is the Pok Pok Som Drinking Vinegar in pomegranate flavor. Serve it on the rocks with sparkling water or club soda for a delicious mocktail (that's what I had) or add a shot of vodka for a tasty cocktail (that's what hubby had). It tasted great both ways. Fun drink to have on hand for your next gathering with friends.


Rad Outfit

How fun is this bright green number with the fur vest?! Love it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Blood Orange Sighting


Photo courtesy of Food Blogga

I saw blood oranges at the grocery store yesterday and was reminded of a salad my friend Amy Tucker made oh so many years ago. It had butter lettuce, blood oranges, kalamata olives and red onion. Delicious. I made it last night and tonight with mixed greens instead of butter lettuce and some fennel. It's a great salad and something a little different than what I usually throw together. My husband really liked it too.

Salad with Blood Oranges & Kalamata Olives

Mixed greens
Blood oranges - peeled and separated, then cut in half
Kalamata olives, pitted ones, cut in half
Fennel, sliced thin
Red onion, sliced paper thin *

Basic Vinaigrette

Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Fresh lemon juice
Dijon mustard

* Not everyone likes raw red onion in salads. For me, it's all about how it's cut. I hate biting into a chunk of raw red onion so whenever I make a salad or sandwich with it, I slice it paper thin. You get a hint of the flavor instead of it overwhelming your mouth. I also toss it with a splash of the vinaigrette and let it sit while I finish preparing the rest of the salad. I find that it takes away some of the bite. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bag of the Day: Prada Python Perfection



Fascinating Books


This past fall I read both Jaycee Dugard's memoir "A Stolen Life" and Malika Oufkir's memoir "Stolen Lives". They were heartbreaking and disturbing stories about their countless years of imprisonment. I couldn't put them down because I was so eager to hear how these women and their families survived such horror. The stories are haunting but so fascinating that they are absolutely worth reading.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Golf Saved My Life

Here are two short articles from the "Golf Saved My Life" section of Golf Digest that are worth reading (even if you're not interested in golf they are worth reading)...

A Golf Trip With My Dad I Won't Forget

Finding Peace on The Road


Friday, January 6, 2012

Merry Kissmas


Hilarious, right?

This is my friend Beth's family. Beth (back middle with bangs) is truly one of the funniest people I have ever known so it is no surprise that her family is also hilarious. I wanted to use this idea for my Christmas cards next year but I can't resist sharing it. I love this photo. I love the twinkle in Beth's eye because I know she is dying of laughter inside.

Her family also has an ugly Christmas sweater contest (obviously) where you're not allowed to spend more than $20 on your sweater (shipping included). And as if they aren't fun enough already, they also have a "Hairy Christmas" facial hair/mustache contest with the following rules:

The judges will determine which contestant’s facial hair best enhances the contestant’s overall appearance, style and personality, taking into account:

· Overall condition and health of the facial hair
· Uniformity of color
· Thickness
· Symmetry
· Size including but not limited to length
· Presentation

May the best man win!

Is it wrong that I want to be part of her family at the holidays? I love my own, but come on, how fun and creative is her clan?!

Wishing you all a belated Hairy Kissmas!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Nurtured Heart Approach

My friend Jackie did the extensive training for The Nurtured Heart Approach and uses the approach for parenting her four children. It sounded like such an interesting approach that I asked to learn more. She recommended the book All Children Flourishing - Igniting the Greatness of Our Children because it's the easiest of the books to read and implement. I haven't finished the book but I was so excited about the strategy that I signed up for the one-day training when Howard, the founder of the Nurtured Heart Approach, was in Seattle awhile back. It was amazing, inspiring and eye-opening.

Side note: Most of the people at the training were counselors, teachers and principals. There are several local school districts that are adopting the approach because of it's effectiveness, especially with tough kids.

Since the training I have been trying to stay on course with the Nurtured Heart Approach because when I do, I can definitely see a difference in my daughter's behavior. The reason it's difficult to stay on course is because it requires more energy up front, but when you give a little extra up front, you get better behavior, less whining, fewer meltdowns and more. Sometimes I get off-track. I resort to yelling, bribes, time outs, taking away toys and privileges, and more... and not surprisingly, I get more and more of the bratty behavior. 

It's a confusing approach to stomach at first, because it turns everything you've learned upside down. It asks you to put in all your energy in when your child is behaving good, rather than bad, which is so often when mommy wants to quietly slip into the other room for a breather rather than risk disrupting the calm moment by interacting. I know I've been there.

It's not about saying "good job" all the time. It's about labeling good behavior with indisputable facts and creating inner wealth, thus promoting and rewarding the behavior that you want, not the behavior you don't want. It's hard to sum up in a blog post, but if you're interested in learning more, I highly recommend the book and strategy.

I'mmmmmmmmmm Baaaaaaaaack!

Happy Happy New Year!!!

I'm easing back into the blog world after a chaotic holiday season. I'll start slow and work my way back up to regular posts. I'll start with a few things today... a quote of the day, an interesting article, my new favorite dessert and a cooking tip.


"Cheat the earth and the earth will cheat you."

- Chinese Proverb


There is a high price to cheap food and this article addresses one of the many issues... the poor working conditions for migrant workers. When I was in middle school my youth group babysat migrant workers' children in Lynden, Washington while the parents worked in the fields. When free childcare isn't available, many children (even school age children) spend their days out in the farms, playing or working with their parents. It was one of the most eye-opening experiences I had as a teenager. We met the families and saw their working conditions, their temporary housing (for some it's their cars), their extreme poverty and high work ethic, taking them from one state to the next as different crops are in season. This article was interesting to me because of that experience and because everyone deserves safe and fair working conditions. Help right this wrong by shopping at stores like PCC who support farmers doing the right thing.

Article: "Justice for Farmworkers"


On a lighter note, for New Years Eve I made Chocolate Almond Butter Cups and served with a scoop of Bluebird's Caffé Vita Coffee. It is now my daily dessert addiction. It's just the right size, oh so rich and a great flavor combo.


I took a cooking class awhile back and was told that when making soups, stews or sauces, don't add the pepper until closer to the end. "They say" if you add it too early and it simmers for many hours, the pepper can turn bitter. I've never noticed a difference but I pepper toward the end now anyway, just in case.

I'm not going to update all my recipes so if you see that a soup recipe that calls for pepper early on, just postpone.