Sunday, December 25, 2011

Eleven things that I learned in 2011.

Now that Christmas is almost wrapped up, I'd like to share that 2011 was a very educational year for me. Here is what I got for the eleven things I learned in '11...

I learned... (#1)
I am passionate about three things in life. I challenge everyone to think about the 3 things in life that they are passionate about outside of friends and family. It's a harder question than you think. Also, don't pay much mind to the hand motion comments below - it's just a reference to the San Diego *lawyer* (a.k.a. I think that was his line) who told me that he only loved three things and illustrated with hand motions. This is where I am a little quirky. :) 

(A) - dogs. (Point one finger to the sky.) 2011 brought me Flugzeug... aka Zeuggie... aka Z. He is the love of my life. I also love the people in my life who treat the dog as if he was my family. I know its not the same, but just watch Game of Thrones and you'll understand he is my dyer wolf. (Yes, I am a nerd that watches Sci-Fi...) 2011 also met Haas with a lot of pain and illness. Please everyone keep him in your prayers. Although he doesn't live everyday with me, he still is my first baby. 

(B) - Skiing. (Point 2 fingers straight ahead, perpendicular to the ground.) Mammoth girls weekend in 2011 and a repeat in 2012. Can.not.wait. Plus, I have learned to drop a cornice without crying. Geishas are gonna treat me well this year. Would love to hit up Kitzbuehel and Jackson also in 2012, but Austria may be a stretch. 

(C) - Throwing Parties. (Point 3 fingers to the ground.) My idol is Chef Roble. Anyone who wants to commission me for a party next year -- IN. I threw my personal best parties ever this year (yes, biased and bragging a little). Got asked to do center pieces and 2 weddings next year. Culmination of my party planning abilities was the 12 bars of Madison Park. Sorry, I was cranky that day and took no pictures. Need to learn how to be less emotional. Note for 2012. 

I learned... (#2)
 My parents are still the best people I know. Sometimes when I think about my parents, I think about the poem "Footprints." In the toughest times of my life, my parents carried me. 

I learned... (#3)  
The driving etiquette of Madison Park. For those of you who don't know... Gardners yield for runners. Runners yield for old people. Old people yield for people with kids. Everyone yields for anyone leaving the tennis club in their fancy cars. Dude. More than 10 times that I have almost been hit this year. 

I learned... (#4)
 Don't leave things on the floor when you have a puppy. 

I learned... (#5) 
Text conversations between men and women should be limited to "when are we meeting?" -- at least mine should.

I learned... (#6)
 To be thankful for wonderful friends. I have more good friends now than ever before in my life. I started to name all of you, but then thought you know who you are. I love you guys.

I learned... (#7)
 Every woman needs a closet room and professional photos. My closet room is my club house. I have slept on the fainting couch many times this year. Makes me feel safe. Also, from a girl who wore uniforms all her life, I am happy surrounded by my party dresses. There are few bad days that can't be solved with Fendi purse or a Herve Leger dress. On the photo side, doesn't matter how much you have pay, every girl should have something that she can look at and always feel beautiful.  I recommend Nicole Raine and Lawrence Kim for photos. 

I learned... (#8)
 I can still cook. I make a mean Mac and Cheese.  For the Christmas party, I did individual Mac and Cheeses. Really you can make anything into an appetizer. 

* Ingredients * 
1 pound pasta, cooked

* Topping* 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups panko* (Japanese bread crumbs) or coarse dry bread crumbs
  • 1 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 4 ounces)
* Sauce *
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 4 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 1 pound)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup medium, fresh salsa

* Instructions *
  • Cook pasta for 20 minutes. 
  • Mix together panko, melted butter and 1 cup cheese. Set aside. 
  • Heat butter and flour into a roux, constantly stirring in sauce pan for 3 minutes. Add milk, pepper and pepper flakes. Bring to boil and simmer for 6 minutes until reduced to 1/2 of volume.  
  • Stir in cream, 4 cups cheese, mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Mix sauce, salsa and noodles together. 
  • Divide between 30 mini Ramekins.
  • Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Broil on High for 2 minutes.  
I learned... (#9) I have great instincts on boys. My biggest issue is that I don't listen to them. 

I learned... (#10)
 Forgiveness is paramount in life. Don't hold grudges. Don't be too proud to say you are are sorry. Nothing wrong with humbling yourself. 

I learned... (#11)
 Great things happen when least expected. Onto 2012.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Eat. Drink. Be Merry.

First blog post in a while. Been working really hard and well, while I have done lots of creative things - parties, monkey hats, mini mac and cheeses - I haven't had the time or the gum shone to blog about anything. But, I thought today about how much I love my blog and for the 33 people who like me on "the Book" you mean the world to me. Seriously. One click and you win my heart. 

I was told today to be more modest. Kinda funny since many times I have been told that I sell myself short all the time. Maybe I just need to find a happy medium. I made 3 of the desserts below. (Not perfect out of the box.) Just to get it right - before I took the picture. (Only a perfectionist about my creative side.) When I delivered them - I got a text that read "I sent a picture to Martha with the caption the bar has been raised, bitch." (Yep... that's bragging. Also, I apologize since my mom told me not to swear on my blog.) I also burned my face on a curling iron this week. (Clumsy.) I make a crap load of mistakes. All I can do is try and apologize when I screw up. 

This weeks recipe... peppermint chocolate trifles. For those of you who missed Rachel's trifle experiment on Friends, trifles are not made with beef. Instead, they are a lovely layered dessert (sans protein).  To make your dish look more elegant, I always think it is a good idea to serve your food in individualized portions vs. family style. For this event, I chose champagne glasses on Wedgwood saucers. (Party tip - buy glassware at IKEA. $0.75 a glass vs a $1.10 to rent.) And well, after you read the recipe you will realize that the right serving dish can make the simplest of desserts look elegant. 

Peppermint Chocolate Trifles 

* Ingredients * 
1 box of chocolate cake 
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
1 1/4 cups water
1 box chocolate pudding 
3 cups whole milk 
2 cups whipping cream 
1/2 cup powdered sugar 
3 Tablespoons Peppermint Schnapps 
12 candy canes
Mint for garnish

* Instructions * 
1. Bake cake as instructed on box. Let cool completely. Using a serrated knife, cut into 1 inch squares.  
2. Cook pudding as instructed on box. (Yep... I told you this was stupid easy.) 
3. Beat cream in blender into stiff peaks. Add in sugar and liquor. 
4. Put 6 candy canes into a plastic Ziploc bag. Crush with spoon. 
5. Layer ingredients as desired. Garnish with mint and extra Candy Canes. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Spicy, Scary Squash

Want to freak out your kids, neighbors, puppies this Halloween? Forget about the witches, ghouls and zombies... be a squash. Geez. Not much must be going on in my life that I am wrote the last sentence.

I did use to be scared of eating squash. No more - it's actually quite delicious. Still scared of beets and rutabagas, however. Another thing to conquer I guess.

Last night I made a spicy squash bruschetta. This recipe has a little bit of everything - sour, sweet, spicy and crunch. I would be perfect to service with a ghoulish cocktail or even as a turkey-day appetizer.

Spicy Squash Bruschetta 

* Ingredients * 

1 acorn squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons salt
Asiago cheese, shredded

* Instructions * 

1. Halve and seed squash. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place squash in roasting pan. Fill pan with water - 1 inch deep. Sprinkle squash with olive oil and nutmeg. Roast for 90 minutes.
2. Let squash cool. Cut into bite size pieces.
3. Toss with other ingredients and heat on cookie sheet for 10 minutes.
4. Serve on baguette slices with Asiago cheese.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Mistake and a Cake

I've started taking professional cooking classes on Monday nights. I asked the chef leading the class if she'd ever have a student that was so bad of a cook that she wanted to kick them out of her kitchen. I think I was looking for story Gordon Ramsay style, but instead she said no. She continued, "The great thing about cooking is there is no mistake you can't fix. Worse comes to worse, you just start over." Such as great metaphor for life. 

Now, as most T+P fans know (i.e, those of you have already liked me on "the book"), I make a mean birthday cake and love the opportunity to do a little catering to make someone's BIG day special. 

Recently, I was asked to make a cheesecake birthday. In all my baking, I have never made a cheesecake. They scare me a little bit... So, since this was a completely new to me, I start with a recipe from the masters - Bon Appétit. 

My creation was a Toffee Crunch Carmel Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust. The cake is still getting rave reviews, but like most of the successes in my life, I had to make a couple of "mistakes" to get it right. The first one got thrown out, much to the delight of Zeuggie, who licked up the remnants in the sink. 

Don't do this.
The secret to baking a great cheesecake is this: after baking the crust, wrap the pan in heavy duty foil. Place the cake with the batter in a roasting pan and fill the roasting pan until it is 2-3 inches deep with water. This keeps the temperature even and the oven moist. If you fail to do this, the cheesecake cracks and looks like it was baked by someone who was afraid of baking cheesecakes. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mad Mushroom

So a mushroom walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'm sorry. We don't serve your kind here." The mushroom replies, "Oh c'mon. I am FUN-GHI."

If that wasn't the stupidest joke you have heard yet this week, you might br running the wrong circles. :)

Mushrooms have always been a favorite or mine. This week, I took a variety of mushrooms - oyster, porcini and shitake - and made a wild mushroom risotto.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

* Ingredients * 
8 cups chicken stock
6 ounces diced pancetta
3 cups mushrooms
4 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups risotto
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup grated Asiago cheese

* Instructions * 
1. In frying pan over medium-high heat, fry pancetta until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon. Set aside.
2. In the same pan, sauté mushrooms in batches. Set aside.
3. In stock pot, melt butter. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add risotto and toss until well coated.
4. Add white wine. Stir until wine is almost absorbed.
5. Add 1 cup of stock. Stir until almost absorbed. Continue process of adding stock and stiring until risotto is creamy, approximately 30 minutes.
6. Stir in herbs and cheese.
7. Top with mushrooms and pancetta.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blackberries and Boxcars

My recipes are experimentations. There are as many that don't turn out as do. Let's just say this week there was a lot of wasted butter and flour this week at my house. 

The inspiration this week was a blackberry pie. Growing up, our house backed on to a wooded ravine. This forrest provided a perfect backdrop for the imaginative mind. I would often spend the afternoon as a woodland fairy or as one of The Boxcar Children. I even befriended a mountain beaver as a pet, but that's our little secret. Don't tell my mom... they destroyed her rhoadies. And don't tell Zeuggie... he might be jealous. 

Adding to the adventure of my imaginary life in the woods was the expansive thicket of blackberries. They provided a great afternoon snack. When I was bored I would collect baskets full or bowls that my mother would turn into pies or cobblers. FYI, my bother and cousins on the other hand were collecting banana slugs... my mom never made a pie out of them. 

In a ode to those childhood memories, I wanted to create two versions of a blackberry pie to share at work and at a friends rooftop BBQ. I ended up with an Almond Blackberry Bar and Lime Shortbread with Blackberry Currant Filling. Try both and let me know which one you prefer! 

Almond Blackberry Bar 
* Ingredients * 
1 1/2 cups butter, cut into squares 
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract 
3 cups flour 
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup flour
4 cups blackberries

* Instructions * 
1.  Using a pastry blender, mix butter, sugar, almond extract and flour until ingredients from a nice crumble. Set 1/3 of mixture aside. 
2. Press 2/3 of mixture into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes. 
3. Whisk 4 eggs and powdered sugar. Add sour cream and flour. Mix until well blended. Fold in blackberries. 
4. Spread blackberry mixture over cooled crust. Sprinkle remaining crust on top. Bake for 45-60 minutes. 

Lime Shortbread with Blackberry Currant Filling 

* Ingredients * 

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
4 cups blackberries 
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Creme de Cassis 
2 packets gelatin 

* Instructions * 
1. In mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest and juice. 
2. Slowly mix in flour and salt. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours. 
3. Roll dough on to a floured surface and using a 3 inch biscuit cutter, cut out an even number of rounds. Place on to greased cookie sheet. 
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 325 degree oven. Cool on racks. 
5. In food processor or blender, puree blackberries, sugar and liquor. Stir in gelatin. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. 
6. Spoon filling onto cookie and place 2nd cookie on top. Dust with powdered sugar. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Laisser les bons temps rouler!

I love a good party. Who doesn't? Better than attending a party, I love to throw a party. Really, there is nothing I like more than setting the perfect scene for people to mingle and have a good time. If I had one wish it might very well be to have a career as a professional party planner. This summer I did 2 parties with a N'awlins menu and theme. The first was an afternoon baby shower for my sister-in-law inspired by HWTM's "Fete Du Bebe" and the second was a dinner party for friends.

Why two events with the same theme? Maybe it was just because I couldn't stand to put all the feathers away. Maybe it was because I am obsessed with True Blood and the New Orleans, "blue-sy" soundtracks. Maybe it was because the requires a five pound minium order on crawfish and I didn't want to let any of it go to waste. Maybe, I am just insane and there is a third party with the Cajun theme around the corner. :) 

* Shower Decor *
So first of all a recap of the baby shower... My sister-in-law is one of the sweetest people I know. Also, she is going to make the best mother and me for an aunt for the first time (any day now...). When her and my brother got married, Loni *really* wanted a tent. Unfortunately, their wedding day was full of showers. Good luck, right? But, for the shower, we definitely needed a big top. Hung from the tent top were 48 Chinese lanterns in different shades of blue and orange. The tables were done with feather accents, custom zebra tablecloths and orange runners. Blue and orange cocktail monkeys hung from the glasses and customized cards were used for the favors.

* Baby Shower Menu * 
  • Cajun-spiced Popcorn (served in decorative paper cones... of course!)
  • Tangy Cucumber and Grapefruit Salsa with crackers
  • Spicy Shrimp with brown sugar glazed andouille over Cheesy Grits 
  • Mini Crawfish Gratins 
  • Petite Gateau du Sirop 
  • Blue Monkeys (Champagne with Blue Curacao)  
  • Orange and Mint infused Water

* Dinner Party Decor *
Now as I mentioned, the feathers were really, really fun and for the dinner party I wanted to carry more of the feather accents through. Pier One helped me out with that task, because really what girl that lives in a Barbie Dream Home doesn't need peacock placemats? The orange runner was re-used from the shower. Black and white napkins finished the classy-French quarter themed look.
What did I serve at this dinner party? Crawfish Etouffee, of course!

* Crawfish Etouffee Recipe * 

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika 
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery 
2 pounds crawfish meat
1/4 cup flour
2 cups seafood stock
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
Chopped Italian Parsley 

1. Melt butter in large skillet. Add seasonings, onions, green pepper and celery. Sautee until vegetables are translucent. 
2. Add crawfish and cook for 5 minutes. Add stock and flour stirring constantly until it is a thick gravy. 
3. Add tomatoes, tabasco, fresh time and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.   
4. Serve over jasmine rice. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Green is for luck

Tarte and Parcel was recently turned down for a food blog directory. Apparently, if you blog about anything but food, people don't want to read about it. Whatever. I'm not blogging about food tonight.

Tomorrow is a big day for me. One of those days that can send your life in one direction or another - a crossroads, a left or a right.

I don't like "big" choices. I don't like left or right. I like roundabouts. Don't feel comfortable making a turn? Go around another circle one more time. It takes me a while to figure things out. I usually dont understand why people do things. I don't understand why the dog likes to steal socks and underwear. I don't understand why someone who was one of your best friends last year doesn't even include you in party invite anymore. I dont understand why an ice cream company would make rainbow sherbert with lime vs. pineapple. Orange, raspberry and pineapple is the BOMB!

For luck with my big decision, I made a necklace with green chalcedony and copper. Copper can't be wrong - it like a lucky penny!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pizzer: The Ultimate Comfort Food.

I guess I have *writer's block.* I don't really have any cute stories to tell, deep thoughts on life or another such silliness. Thank GOD I don't have *chef's block* however. The past few weeks, I have discovered grilling pizza the the BBQ and have to share with everyone how wonderful it is. (Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm a little late to the party on this one.)

Pizza is a wonderful comfort food. With the right toppings, it is the best combo of sweet and savory. And whether you worry about what shoes go with your new DVF dress, will you ever meet Mr. Right or about the European debt crisis and its effect on the US recovery - face it... we ALL need a little comfort food.

So what do you need to grill pizza?

  • BBQ
  • Pasty Brush with Olive Oil 
  • Pizza Dough  
  • Pizza Toppings 

To get going, heat up your grill to a medium-high temp. You're going to want to grill the dough on the grill over direct heat. To stop the dough from sticking, use your pasty brush to baste the dough and grill with olive oil.

Roll out your dough (make your own or pick up some from Trader Joe's) on a floured surface. Place dough on grill for 2-3 minutes until dough begins to bubble. Flip using a spatula and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes.

What's next? Toppings! Here are some of my favorites so far...

1. Shrimp, Pesto, Fresh Tomato, Onion with shaved Parmesan and Pine Nuts. 
Secret: Grill the shrimp with lemon on the BBQ before putting on the pizza to add a citrus zest. Don't forget to toast the pine nuts!

2. Proscuitto, Chevre, Crimini Mushroom, Arugula and Fig Sauce.
Secret: Saute the mushrooms in a large pan beforehad. Use a double boiler to melt fig jam into a sauce. Toss Arugula in lemon juice.

3. Chicken, Spiced Pear, Onion, Gorgonzola and Walnut.  
Secret: Cook chopped pear in 2 tablespoons brown sugar and nutmeg. Don't forget the onion and the walnuts - it helps to balance the sweetness of the pear!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Watermelon goodness... at least the puppy thinks so.

Well, summer arrived in Seattle on July 5. Maybe a day or two earlier this year, but I was in Vegas so I didn't know. The HOT weather in LV plus the awesome PNW weather this week had me thinking about the best ways to cool off.  

This recipe is inspired by a recent trip to San Diego. There I visited Searsucker - a restaurant openned by Top Chef alumni Brian Malarkey. I love me the Top Chef and could resist a chance to see Brian in action.

There, I sampled one of the most delicious cocktails that I have had in a while - a combination of watermelon, gin and a serrano chile. In an attempt to improve upon something great, I decided to turn this into a dessert drink.

Watermelon and Serrano Chile Granita

* Ingredients * 
2/3 of a seedless, mid-sized watermelon (about 4 cups watermelon juice)
1 serrano chiles 
2/3 cup sugar 
Splash of Gin
Mint Sprigs

* Instructions *
1. Chop watermelon into large chunks. Puree in blender or food processor. Strain until you have 4 cups of juice.
2. Seed the serrano chile. Mash in a chile using a mortar and pestal. Strain juice. 
3. Combine watermelon juice, chile juice and sugar. Stir until well dissolved. 
4. Pour juice mixture into a shallow pan. Place in freezer. 
5. After 45 minutes, use a rubber spatula to break up the partially frozen mixture. Continue to freeze for another 1-2 hours, breaking up occasionally. 
6. Serve with a splash of gin and a sprig of mint.
7. Do not leave your 4 month old puppy outside alone with the drink. Zeuggie lurked until around until I went inside to get a spoon. He then helped himself to a little... err, a lot of granita.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And it started with a cupcake...

June was the best month ever for Tarte and Parcel. Thank you to every one who has emailed/ texted/ called with the encouragement and comments. I am honored to say that I have followers in Austin, Atlanta, Paris and London. Yep - T & P is global. Still trying to figure out who is reading this in Russia and Malaysia. 

I am truly flattered by the praise for my food and the blog in general as the origins of this blog start in a sad place. A year ago I lived alone -- yes, yes, I know I still live alone -- but my friends were farther than a block way and no one new my name at the local bar. My brother who for most of my life had been my best friend had just gotten married and was off doing the things that newlyweds do. I spent a lot of time alone. I was a dating disaster (karma is getting me back now, since all the men I meet are disasters - but that is another story) and I ate practically every meal alone. 

For the record, I hate eating alone. 

After one dinner on my own, I went to put my 1 plate and 1 fork in the dishwasher. I realized the entire dishwasher was full of 1 plate and 1 fork combos. A couple had been in there for so long that they I think some of the not completely washed off food was looking like a penicillin factory. I broke down in tears on the floor and just sat there for a while. 

The next day I made cupcakes - Blackberry Swirl Pound Cake. Baking takes a lot of bowls, blenders and utensils and all of these need to be washed. My dishwasher quickly filled up - filled up with happy times in the kitchen. 

I started posting my creations to Facebook and sharing with friends. Many people started asking me bring goodies to their dinner parties, picnics, etc. and a few folks were asking for recipes and the like. Last August, I decide to start the blog to take it one step further. Thus, Tarte and Parcel. 

So, thank you for reading my blog, for the compliments. Your support keeps both my dishwasher and life full.  

Today's post give hommage to that very first cupcake. Of course, I can't stop experimenting so I changed things up a little. 

Blueberry Swirl Cupcakes with Lemon Icing 

* Ingredients *

For the cupcake... 
8 ounces blueberries 
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter 
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs 
1 1/4 cup flour 
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the icing... 
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream
Juice from 1 lemon

* Instructions * 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Puree blueberries with 3 tablespoons sugar in food processor. Set aside. 
3. Cream sugar and butter in electric mixer. Add eggs. Add flour, baking power and salt. Add sour cream, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Mix until well combined. 
4. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Alternate adding batter and blueberry mixture until 3/4 full. Swirl with fork for a marbleized effect. Bake for 30 minutes. 
5. Combined ingredients for icing. Drizzle over cooled cupcakes. Top with fruit if desired. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fascinated by Fascinators

Since the marriage of Will and Kate, fascinators have become the newest "fashion must" and god knows, I love a good hat. When I cracked my head open last year and got 40 some odd stitches in my forehead (yep, I've crossed ambulance ride and hearing the echo of your exposed skull off the bucket list), I started a collection of newsboys and fedoras since *something* needed to cover-up the bandages.

Sidebar: At that time, I was informed that men don't like hats. WTF men. Hats are hot.

Unfortunately, in Seattle, we are not known for our fashion forwardness. Well, unless you count the grunge movement and who can really count flannels from Value Village as haute couture? Since we are a little behind the times out here, I had to pick a day of costumes to debut my fascinator creation. Let's just say it was Mrs. Peacock in her fascinator in the Lounge with the revolver.

 A good fascinator is made of silk, beads, feathers and a little sparkle. I picked a mixture of peacock, black coque and aqua ostrich feathers. For a extra bit of elegance, I added a black veil and finished the piece off with a vintage rhinestone button. I secured the piece with a few bobby pins, but it could have easily been attached to a comb or small headband.

The hat was a hit. I was invited to make a 2 ladies wedding veils. Of course, theses gals had drunk a margarita or four. My second career as a haberdasher may not take off quite so soon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

TV Dinner? Yes, please.

Cooking for a friend tonight and wanted to do something special. 

My mom didn't let me eat TV dinners very often. Usually only when it was baby-sitter night. My dad let me eat them more often. On the other hand, he never let me touch, let alone open, the mini-bar in hotels on vacation.

Mini-bars are now the first thing I go for in hotels - even if it is just for a bottle of water or a pack of almonds. In the same vein, I want to go back to the "forbidden" tv dinner.

So in all honesty, the trip back to the TV dinner land is also inspired by some recent comments. Listen peeps, just because I am invited to drink Dom with the man that owns the universe and end up at roof top wine tastings or impromptu pool parties, does not mean I am snobby. And just because I make Zabaglione, doesn't mean I have a sophisticated palate. It just means I like to experiment. I can dress it down for the game, just as easily as I can dress it up for places with 24 forks. 

So back to dinner. I am going to Vegas in a week - which means lots of pool time. Thus, I can't afford to do the heavy, greasy TV dinner. Instead, I used my favorite Swanson's as an inspiration and opt'd for a more low-cal fare. 

  • "Lighter" Fried Chicken Strips 
  • Cauliflower Puree
  • Fresh Pea Salad with Radishes and Pickled Onion 
  • Lemon Sorbet and Strawberries
"Lighter" Fried Chicken Strips

* Ingredients * 
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup corn flake crumbs
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
Olive oil

*Instructions * 
1. Cut chicken breast into thin strips. Marinate for 1 hour in buttermilk.
2. Mix flour, corn flakes, carynne and thyme together.
3. Coat chicken in flour mixture.
4. Heat 1-2 tablespoons oil in frying pan. Fry chicken until cooked all the way through.
5. Absorb excess oil with paper towels.

As the final touch to my meal, each item is placed in its own little cup. Now, its time to sit down and watch the new episode of the Real Housewives of NYC. Although the food may be light, I am not immune to guilty pleasures.  :) 

Sunday, June 19, 2011


So I had originally planned this post for Mother's Day. Instead of an omelet, I was going to call it a "momelet." Schedules being what they are however, that didn't happen. So instead for my parent's breakfast this morning, Father's day, I made momelets and "dadlets" in a tribute to both of them!   

Circa 1980. When I was blonde and Dad had hair.

If I could be thankful for just one thing in life, I would be thankful for my parents. They are kind and giving people. Even to this day, my dad mows my lawn because I don't have a lawn mower and helps me put together IKEA furniture because I am not smart enough to follow instructions. (Hey - they don't teach how to use an Allen wrench as an MBA class.) My mom is the chief dog nanny slash personal assistant. She even will pick up my dry cleaning and not pass along the bill. Recently, she has been revamping my backyard and is the toast of all the neighbors.  

The menu for the morning:

- Smoked Salmon, Shallot and Gruyere Omelets
- Mushroom, Chive and Chevre Omelets 
- Breakfast Potatoes  


I just recently was taught how to make a good omelet. Some tips that I have learned on my journey so far:

- Cook omelets in a non-stick pan, greased with butter over low heat. If the butter is browning, the pan is too hot.
- A good rubber spatula is your best omelet success tool
- Experiment! Any topping can be a new egg adventure. Although I kept it traditional today, it's kinda like pizza. Sometimes unlikely combos are the best and most interesting options.