Monday, February 27, 2012

Ricotta Binge


I've been kind of freaking out over ricotta lately. Not the regular pre-packaged ricotta that you find near the sour cream and cottage cheese at the grocery store to use in lasagne, but the real deal ricotta. I have been buying a container of it every time I'm within a few miles of Pike Place. I feel like if I'm close enough, I will make the effort to park and run in to DeLaurenti to get some fresh ricotta (and my favorite salami Fra' Mani's Salame Nostrano). The only thing better than buying fresh ricotta from a great deli would be to make it yourself. That intimidates me, but if you're up for the challenge I'm sure that would be even more delicious.

While on my weekend ricotta binge I made Pasta with Tomato Sauce & Ricotta for dinner, my revised Orange Ricotta Pancakes both Saturday and Sunday morning (to which my husband said, "I'm really not a pancake guy but these are the best pancakes I've ever had!") and a new ricotta gem of a recipe... Smitten Kitchen's Ricotta Crostinis.

All of the crostinis were good but the toasted bread with ricotta, honey and sea salt was amazing. I think the key is using both a good quality ricotta and honey.

A note on honey: I buy Fireweed Honey from Golden Harvest Bee Ranch, sold at the farmers market in Ballard every Sunday. It's delicious.

Have you made ricotta before? It's easy, right? I should not be intimidated?

Look of the Day: Emma Stone


Shoe of the Day


How fun would these bad boys be for summer?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Look of the Day


Photo found on Sacramento Street

Secrets of Their Success


If you don't get Bon Appetite, check out the spread "Kitchen Confident" where chef's share their tips for kitchen organization, prep, and efficiency.

Pan-Fried Pork Chops

A few weeks ago I bought pork chops at the farmers market from Skagit River Ranch and was looking for a new recipe to prepare them. I settled on the Pioneer Woman's Pan-Fried Pork Chops. They were delicious and everyone gobbled them up. The ones I bought were bone-in and a bit thick so I pounded them thinner avoiding the bone. As usual I bought more than we needed knowing that I could use leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day. I had the perfect amount of leftover meat to stretch into a delicious pork fried rice dinner. Two recipes worth making.

The Coast with the Most

From Sunset's Best in the West to Bon Appetite's The Coast with the Most.

Check out Bon Appetits's three-day travel itinerary from Seattle to Vancouver.


Attention Marni Lovers


I love the colorful and abstract patterns and the unique and boxy cuts that we see season after season from Marni. I couldn't be more excited about the Marni for H&M line launching March 8th. Here are a few looks. See the rest via the slide show on Huffington Post.

More Weekend Reading Assignments

Mindful Eating as Food for Thought
A concept based on Buddhist teachings encourages people to eat slowly, paying close attention to the sensation and purpose of each morsel.

The Fat Trap
Science is uncovering a painful truth about obesity - that in the battle to lose weight, and keep it off, our bodies are fighting against us.

Marathon Swimmer Diana Nyad Takes On the Demons of the Sea
Why the 62-year-old can’t stay out of the water. Despite the jellyfish.

Pieces of a (Very Young) Man
The first, worst gig of a future radical-poet-musician.

Why Does it Matter That Families Eat Together?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Best New Word Ever



Because vanity knows no gender

Friday, February 24, 2012

Best in the West


This is a great list from Sunset magazine to file away in your travel folder:

"25 Best Hotels in the West"


Perfect Meatless Dinner

Tonight I made the following for a healthy, flavorful and filling meatless dinner:
We had a bottle of Chateau d'Esclans Whispering Angel Rose 2010 at Vij's in Vancouver and loved it so we bought some online. We had it tonight with this meal and it was great.

A good reminder that meatless night can be just as delicious and satisfying as your meat heavy meals.

Your Weekend Fashion Inspiration

Mix and matched bracelets is a fashion trend I can't get enough of. I love all the different looks you can create. All photos courtesy of Fashion Me Now.

Happy Friday!

Weekend Reading Material

Here's some reading homework for the weekend. Can you tell how behind I am on reading? Lots of these articles are from January 8th!

The Gifts of Motherhood and the Ordinary Places I Found Them
Great article that makes you appreciate those moments where you feel like you hit the pause button on life and you couldn't be happier.

'Am I Ugly?' Videos: Young Teens Ask YouTube Users Whether They're Pretty Or Not
This is so disturbing. It breaks my heart for these young girls.

Why French Parents Are Superior
"While Americans fret over modern parenthood, the French are raising happy, well-behaved children without all the anxiety. Pamela Druckerman on the Gallic secrets for avoiding tantrums, teaching patience and saying 'non' with authority."

The Lives They Lived: Vann Nath, b. 1946
"The terms were clear you would be painting for your life."

How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body
"Popped ribs, brain injuries, blinding pain. Are the healing rewards worth the risks?"

Where an Internet Joke Is Not Just a Joke
"In China, it’s a form of defiance – and the government is not amused."

The End of Girl Land
"A pair of bracelets passed from mother to daughter tells of a deeper link — and loss."

And a great granola recipe to whip up this weekend. My friend Dana said to watch it though because the cook time seemed too long. You don't want it to burn. 

Eleven Madison Park Granola
"The rolled oats are golden with brown sugar and a hint of maple, with salt and a wisp of olive oil for depth. Coconut chips and shelled pistachios provide a hint of whimsy, pumpkin seeds a leathery crunch. Dried sour cherries peek out from here and there, bits of softness to complete the whole."

Finally, here is an audio link to an interesting story about The Man Behind 5-Hour Energy. I don't drink them but I know people who love them.


One of a Kind Bar

I am officially obsessed with KIND bars. They are the best bars ever. I have been having one every morning with my coffee and couldn't be happier, especially when it's the dark chocolate version. They are also great for when you need a snack between meals and crave something both healthy and sweet.

Read an interview with creator here.

So far I've tried these three flavors and love them all...

  • Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants
  • Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio + Antioxidants
  • Cranberry Almond + Antioxidants

Top 5 Regrets in Life

My friend Chris told me about this list and I thought it was interesting and worth sharing...

Nurse reveals the top 5 regrets people make on their deathbed.

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality.

I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

A man goes out on the beach and sees that it is covered with starfish that have washed up in the tide. A little boy is walking along, picking them up and throwing them back into the water.

"What are you doing, son?" the man asks. "You see how many starfish there are? You'll never make a difference."

The boy paused thoughtfully, and picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean. "It sure made a difference to that one," he said.

Half the Sky

I just finished reading Half the Sky and the easiest way to sum it up is that it is a life-changing experience. My friend Jen wrote about the book so eloquently in this post she did about "International Woman's Day"...

"I strongly believe every adult living in a developed country should read this book and, as a woman, it is imperative. It is a heart wrenching but clear, incredibly informative, and worthy account of the major issue of our time: women’s rights and gender equality. It is well documented by the UN and other global organizations that empowering and educating women is the best way to fight poverty and extremism (even global warming) in developing countries. Half the Sky clearly articulates why this is true and frankly, why you should care. What I love most here is that the authors are not asking for your sympathy, they are asking you to join a movement, to give. They believe the worst thing you can do after reading this book is feel like the cause is too big and overwhelming and that you as an individual can’t make a difference, because you can. It’s not about giving a large sum of money – it’s about giving something of yourself, getting involved. It may be a bit of your time, your connections, or your skills. Sometimes it’s easier to give money, and I can speak to the need for more money for organizations like One by One to do what they do; absolutely we need money. But if you don’t have the money, are you powerless to give? Absolutely not. Half the Sky offers a few ways to get involved – check out their website and here is another resource."

I couldn't have said it better myself. Buy the book here now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Salmon & the Side, by Kennifer


My dear friend Jen and her new hubby Ken are chefs making their debut in Portland, Oregon with their new restaurant Riffle NW opening soon. Read about the restaurant here and here, then start planning a Seattle-to-Portland road trip for the spring to taste their delicious fresh catch creations.

This dashing duo was just featured in Food & Wine magazine (how cool is that?!) with their recipe for Roast Salmon with Whole Grain Mustard Crust.

So here is a special treat for Over Cocktails fans that Food & Wine readers did not get... the recipe for Crispy Sprout Leaves and Chorizo which Jen says is her favorite part of the recipe. I can't wait to try it all, or better yet, convince her to make it for me.

Crispy Sprout Leaves and Chorizo

1 lb Brussels sprouts
3 Spanish chorizo links, about 12-16 oz. total
2 T olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1 T unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Trim the stem ends of the sprouts (discard them) and then pull off the leaves (she loves me, she loves me not) and set aside in a bowl.

Cut the chorizo into small dice.

Heat a large skillet until it’s smoking hot, add the oil and chorizo and sauté until it begins to color. Add the Brussels sprout leaves and continue to sauté until the leaves become slightly charred, about 3-5 minutes.

Fold in the lemon zest and butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon warm sprout salad to the side of salmon and serve.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quote of the Day

"One study after another has shown that educating girls is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty."

- Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, from the book Half the Sky

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

This Ought to Keep You Busy

I'll be away on vacation for a few weeks and may not post much so I thought I would load you up with some articles to read while I'm away. A few good ones...

Miscellaneous Topics

Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart” describes the most important cultural trends today and offers a better understanding of America’s increasingly two-caste society.
The Great Divorce

Millions of children take drugs to help them pay attention — but do they really help?
Ritalin Gone Wrong

While Cynthia Nixon’s critics have good reason to worry about how her words will be construed, they have no right to demand silence and conformity from her.
Genetic or Not, Gay Won’t Go Away

A staggering manufacturing system in China has made it possible for Apple and other companies to make devices almost as quickly as they can be dreamed up, but for workers, it can be dangerous.
In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad

For one father, routine biological events should not be rewarded with money. So how about a book?
Curtain Up on Act II for the Tooth Fairy

Food Related

No Meat, No Dairy, No Problem

We’re Eating Less Meat. Why?

Finally, Good News About School Lunches

Modern Love Articles

“You never know how quickly life can change,” the young mother told me.
The Magi at 40,000 Feet

The 1,200 miles dividing two people takes its toll.
Navigating in a Long-Distance Affair

Giving up dress shoes, bookstores and a steady paycheck for unexpected connections to unexpected people.
A Side Order of Romance, Please


What Our Heart Desires

 Photo Credit: The Soho

The pizza at Delancey rocks my world visit after visit. My husband and I love it so much that we battle traffic to make the 20-30 minute drive, wait in line in the cold until it opens, and panic the entire meal that our kids are going to melt and disrupt other customers. But, we do it again and again because the pizza is worth all that madness.
This last time we ordered the sausage pizza with the additional topping of spicy pickled peppers. It was AMAZING, with a capital A-M-A-Z-I-N and G! We also got the white pie adding sausage and preserved lemon which is a fave combo of mine. Starting with a Jersey salad is a must, as is ending with a salted chocolate chip cookie. Pizza and wine in the middle for the perfect meal.