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FLOWERS MAKE ME HAPPY

May 23, 2012

This past Sunday I went to the Beverly Hills Farmers Market with my boyfriend and bought so many beautiful sunflowers.

These above are called Teddy Bear Sunflowers.  I asked the florist from Mayeda Farms if I could arrange these with regular sunflowers and she gave me a thumbs up.  So I got home (after stopping at the market for some items, including more yellow flowers: tulips) and got to work.  After, of course, putting everything perishable in the fridge!

I recently bought these vases at the supermarket, of all places.  They’re really pretty and they make flower arrangements look spectacular.


I love adding a splash of color around the house.

With the tulips, I got a helpful tip from the florist at Bristol Farms.  To make the tulips stand up straight, uniformly, she told me to make a grid within the vase using scotch tape.  Before you do this though, you have to line the vase with large leaves (and I forgot to ask what kind of leaves they were) and this is the trick to making your bouquet look like a million bucks!

Here is what the scotch tape grid looked like…

Then filled with pretty flowers…

And I’m still enjoying them 3 days later!  Flowers make me happy…

M

JAPANESE BENTO BOXES

March 2, 2012

My good friend in Tokyo, Howard, recently sent me an email with some really entertaining pictures that I wanted to share.  Below are pictures of the lunches of some very lucky elementary school children in Japan.  It looks like some people have a lot of time on their hands.  Speaking of having some time on my hands, I just organized my spice drawer in alphabetical order.

I found this American version of the Japanese bento:

photo

When I went to school here in the states, I saw a lot of plain sandwiches in brown paper bags.


Instead of the deliciously carby peanut butter & jelly sandwich, my mom liked to pack me turkey sandwiches with mustard.  She was super cute because she’d pack lettuce and sliced tomato in a separate ziploc so the bread wouldn’t get soggy by the time I was able to eat my lunch.  


Dear Mom, I know a simple “Thank you, Mom” doesn’t cut it for all the sleep lost every morning when you made me some sort of hot breakfast before school, as well as a bagged lunch.  Oh yeah, and dinner too.  But I just want you to know that I am sooooooo thankful for all the delicious food you made for me growing up.  I really lucked out because you’re such an amazingly talented cook.  You helped me fall in love with so many different cuisines with the variety of meals you prepared, and now, as an adult, I have a tremendous appreciation for the time and effort that goes into each dish.  Much love and hugs.

M

from → Inspiration

KITCHEN ENVY

February 28, 2012

I find myself constantly daydreaming about kitchens. Big, spacious, open, tons of counter space, large islands…I’m obsessed. I’ve never had a big, pretty kitchen to call my own, but it is definitely on the top of my “things I want someday” list.


Here are a few kitchens that are currently causing me to drool and swoon.

Sunset
{HGTV}
{Elle Decor}
{Lonny Mag}
{Elle Decor}
{Elle Decor}
{House Beautiful}
{House Beautiful}

R

from → Inspiration

AVOCADO PESTO

February 1, 2012

Ever since I saw this recipe on an episode of Giada at Home, I couldn’t wait to try it. This dish is one of those things I can’t believe I didn’t think of myself. Pasta coated in an avocado based pesto? It’s a no brainer!

The best part about this recipe is that it is so incredibly simple, yet so flavorful. Avocado adds a rich creaminess, arugula adds a spicy touch of pepper,  lime juice adds a tart burst, almonds add a lovely crunch, and parmesan adds the perfect amount of saltiness. To top all of that off…it takes less than 30 minutes to make. And you will most likely lick your plate clean. (I did)

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Linguine with Avocado and Arugula Pesto
by Giada de Laurentiis 

Ingredients
serves 4 to 6 

1 pound linguine pasta
2 medium avocados, halved, peeled, and seeded (about 12 ounces total)
3 cups baby arugula leaves (3 ounces)
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 large limes)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated parmesan (4 ounces)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see Cook’s Note)
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Directions
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Cook’s Note: To toast the almonds, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 6 to 8 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely before using.

 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Place in a serving bowl.

Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh from the avocados and place in a food processor. Add the arugula, basil, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss together. Add the cheese and almonds and toss together until coated, adding the pasta water, as needed, to loosen the sauce.

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bright and creamy avocado pesto ready to go on the pasta

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R

ROASTED TOMATO SOUP

December 8, 2011

I love me some tomato soup, especially when it’s a little chilly outside and your heater isn’t working. Yes, my heater is currently blowing cold air. ugh. Thankfully, I live in Santa Monica and it only drops into the 40’s at night. Still pretty darn cold…but this tomato soup warms me to my toes! It’s sweet, slightly spicy, and the carrots nicely cut through the acidity of the tomatoes leaving you with the perfect roasted tomato soup.

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Roasted Tomato Soup
Serves 6-8 

Ingredients

3 lbs plum (roma) tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
4 large carrots, peeled and quartered
3 garlic gloves, unpeeled and wrapped in foil

2 cups chopped yellow onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 quart chicken stock
1 28 ounce can plum tomatoes
3 cups fresh basil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss tomatoes and carrots in oil, salt, pepper. Add garlic wrapped in foil. Place in oven for 45 minutes.

Heat butter, onions, and garlic in a large pot until onions are translucent. Add red pepper flakes, chicken stock, can of tomatoes, basil, thyme, and roasted carrots and tomatoes with all of their juices. (squeeze the roasted garlic out of the peel and into the soup). Stir well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 35 minutes.

Take half of soup and put in a blender. Lightly blend until coarse, but not completely pureed. Add the other half to the blender and do the same.

Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich and enjoy!

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R

from → Recipes, Soups

CUMIN-SCENTED QUINOA and WILD RICE

December 6, 2011

Like Rachel, I also like to make an abundance of one dish so I can satisfy my mindless grazing in the kitchen for days to come.

If you’d like to try something different from whole wheat pasta, oats, and brown rice, consider protein-rich quinoa (“KEEN-wah”).  Because this grain is so mild-flavored and versatile, you can find a lot of easy quinoa recipes that will suit your taste.  Vegans and vegetarians will love you if you serve this at a dinner party.  Thousands of quinoa varieties thrive, ranging in color from pale ivory to yellow, and even purplish black.  Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard.  As quinoa cooks, the germ separates from the kernel, creating little white rings.  When you see these rings, you know the grains are fully cooked.

Feel free to add more veggies to this already hearty recipe;  cucumbers, grilled zucchini or red peppers are some tasty and colorful options.  Or serve this as an accompaniment with your favorite protein!

Cumin-Scented Quinoa and Wild Rice  (Courtesy of Bon Appétit)
Makes 6 to 8 servings
active time: 40 minutes
total time: 40 minutes

You can substitute any color of rice or quinoa to make this gorgeous (and healthful) salad, which works as a vegetarian main course or hearty side dish.

½ cup short-grain wild or black rice
1 cup red quinoa, rinsed well
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon kosher salt plus more
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds or 1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼  cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons 1″ pieces chives
Freshly ground black pepper
1 avocado, peeled, pitted
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Ingredient info: Black or wild rice and red quinoa are available at higher end supermarkets and at natural foods and specialty foods stores.

Bring rice and 1 cup water (with 2 dashes salt added) to a boil in a small saucepan.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender, 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine quinoa, bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain; return quinoa to hot saucepan.  Cover and let sit for 15 minutes.  Discard bay leaf, fluff quinoa with a fork, and transfer to a large bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and cumin and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

Add to quinoa.  Add rice; mix well.  Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons oil, fresh lemon juice, cilantro, parsley, and chives.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cut avocado into wedges; season with a little salt and pepper.  Serve salad with avocado and lemon wedges.

Per serving: 238 calories, 13 g fat, 29 g carbohydrates

 

M

TURKEY MEATLOAF

December 5, 2011

I love making dishes that will last me a few days and that I can serve in a variety of ways. I happened to have some extra time at home yesterday, so I decided whip up a rather large batch of turkey meatloaf. I love this dish in particular, because it’s healthy, extremely tasty, and I can eat it as a snack, on a sandwich, cold, hot, warm…you’ve got lots of options with this dish.

I really like this recipe by Ina Garten. It makes A LOT of turkey meatloaf, but you’ll be glad you have a big batch when you taste it!

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Turkey Meatloaf serves 8-10
by Ina Garten

Ingredients

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast
1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (I added this ingredient)

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread the ketchup evenly on top and lightly drizzle with additional Worcestershire sauce. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. and the meatloaf is cooked through. (A pan of hot water in the oven under the meatloaf will keep the top from cracking.) Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold in a sandwich.

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after cooking in the oven for 90 minutes

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R