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.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Corks and Dorks

Firstly, I am not calling my friends “dorks.” I’m the dork. Zeuggie is the other dork – he likes to watch 60 Minutes  and Fringe with me. Though with Fringe, he is not nearly as taken with Joshua Jasckson as I am.
Today, I did afternoon cocktails with the ladies. The theme for the menu was spring and light to accompany white wine. Z and I just added the dorks to the corks. J

Menu  -
·        Meat and Cheese Plate
·        Lime and Mint infused Shrimp with Pea Puree
·        Chilled Cucumber Soup
·        Champagne Zabaglione with Strawberry Compote

I’m a big fan of the meat and cheese plate, so we have to save that for another post. The hit of the evening was the Zab… so here is the recipe.

Champagne Zabaglione with Strawberry Compote

* Ingredients *
1 cup champagne
3/4 cup powdered sugar
5 egg yolks
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

6 tablespoons whipping cream

1/2 pound strawberries, chopped

* Instructions *
1. Whisk together champagne, sugar, eggs and corn syrup in metal bowl. Place metal bowl on top of sauce pan with boiling water.
2. Heat mixture to 160 degrees. Remove from heat.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat till cooled.
4. Whip cream until soft peaks form.  Fold into egg mixture..
5. Serve in glasses, alternative fruit and custard mixture.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Full Circle

I made jewelry today - earrings to be exact. I used to make baubbles all the time. Haven't in a along time and I'm not sure what quite gave me the inspiration. Maybe, its because I finally found me - a good combination of old and new.

So, haven't blogged in a while. Many people have asked, "what's been going on?"

Change #1, gotta a puppy. He's pretty awesome. Except when he gets up a 5:15 am. Thanks to all the girls who have made a special trip to come meet him. Zeuggie weighs 16 lbs now and is your general Standard Schnauzer badass. He will be up to 50 lbs pretty soon and able to keep up on the long runs. For now, he is just the cute little bugger hanging out on the patio at the Attic.

Change #2
, I'm a red head and I kinda love it. It's spunky. I was told yesterday by a guy friend, "You are way too witty to be a blonde." Now... if I had gone to blonde from red, he probably would have said, "You are way to sexy/fun-loving/funny/ insert adjetive here, to be a red head." Still love the blondetourage, but the red is here for a little while.  And BTW, the *witty comment* is still the best compliment that I have gotten yet.

Change #3, I went on dates. For the record, I hate dating. Always have. I hate the game-playing and the ambiguity of it. I went out with a chef, firefighters (3), a 26 year-old, a saddle-maker, a bio-chemist, an ex-NFL player, an archeologist and a man who pretended to be a special agent (no lie). No one ever made it past date 3. Most not past 45 minutes. I am now more convinced more than ever there is no good man for me and I'm good with that. Single is good and jewelry making is a better past time.

Change #4, I committed myself to things I have always wanted to do. I got a trainer. Learned how to make omelettes. Signed up for a marathon (Portland baby!) and bought tickets to SE Asia (Angkor anyone?).

Yesterday, I was in for somewhat scary medical stuff. I was super nervous and crying. My nerves were set off when the nurse after looking at my test results screamed "OH MY GOD!" I realized shortly that  what she was screaming at had nothing to do with me. A giant spider was on the floor. I jumped up from the hospital bed and killed the sucker. He didn't have 6-legs. And now I know, things have come full-circle.