April 30, 2010

Friday Night Cocktail

One of my beloved Chef Instructors here at Oregon Culinary told me the other day about an enticing after work beverages: The Chambord and Champagne Cocktail.

Chef Melinda also happens to be married to a Chef, and she and Rolf are dedicated connoisseurs of food, wine, and of course, being from Portland; Beer. They spend their free time away from the kitchen visiting pubs and brewery’s in search of the perfect ale and they wax poetic about hard to find, unique and interesting new brews. If I ever have a question about the best beer to serve with Sheppard’s Pie or grilled steak, where to find a rare bottle of stout, or where to go for the biggest selection of German beers, she is definitely the one to ask.

But the other night, while her hubby-chef was busy in the kitchen preparing yet another decadent dinner for the two of them, she decided to skip her usual before-dinner beer and opened a bottle of champagne instead. She put her feet up and sipped the pink bubbly with a dollop of Chambord. Her glassware of choice was, get this, a pint glass.

Chefs know how to live.

Soon I was on the hunt for dark raspberry liquor to compliment the bottle of champagne that has been sitting in my fridge for a few weeks… and the result was fantastic. Trust me.
Or at the very least, trust Chef Melinda.

I bet it’s even better served in a pint glass.


Melinda’s Fancy Chambord Champagne Cocktail

Pour 1 small "glug" (about 1 tbs or so) of Chambord (or another berry liquor) into champagne flute.

Fill with chilled sparkling white wine. Add 2 small raspberries.



Happy Friday Kittens!

April 29, 2010

Now That's Amore.

Hey There Cupcake


It's been a while since I attended my last writing group and I miss it.  Came across this little exercise today:

She walked into the coffee house not knowing what to expect. She’d seen a photograph of him online, but it was slightly out of focus. What did stand out about this one, and what made her answer his emails, and later, the request for a meeting in person, was his smile. No matter how dark and fuzzy the snapshot online appeared, she could clearly make out a wide, bright smile, one that reached his slightly out-of-focus eyes.

She ordered her Americano and then poured in some cream before sitting in the big easy chair in the center of the room. She was, after all these months, finally excited to meet”The Smiler”. His online profile listed things that were ideal and important in a friend and mate, and he emailed that he was a good listener and loved to cook. She imagined him smiling while they cooked together after work, offering quick shoulder rubs to help ease the kinks and knots in her back after a long day of kneading bread in the bakery she worked at next door. Online dating, so far, had proven to be disappointing, but today she had reason to be hopeful. She had a system: she skipped over all the profiles of men in baseball hats, without their shirts on, or if their profile picture had other women unceremoniously and jaggedly photo-shopped out.

“I said ICED CARMEL Macchiato, EXTRA soy and EXTRA caramel. Double soy-WHIP.”

The tense, short-tempered voice interrupted her musings. She looked up to see a man in a pilled tan sweater with micro suede elbow patches sauntering toward her. He was gripping an embarrassingly large iced coffee drink as he smiled lewdly, focusing in on her chest, honing in as though it was the radar signal guiding his approach and landing.

“Well hey there, Cupcake. That’s my nickname for you... Cupcake. You know, because you work in a bakery and everything.”

He gave an overly animated wink, laughed at his own joke, and cascaded his long, lanky body like a rag doll into the vacant chair next to her.

“Nice sweater, Cupcake.”

She crossed her arms protectively. The Smiler’s grin, which I’d imagined and grown attached to, suddenly changed from charming to smarmy, making him look like a long-limbed version of a perverted Cheshire cat.

“I come up with them all the time, you know, nicknames. Good ones, too. Hey Cupcake, didn’t I tell you I’m lactose intolerant? Well I am. Lactose in-tol-er-ANT. Crap like that there milk and shit tears me up inside like a son of a bitch. You DON’T want that, Cupcake. Hell, they don’t even serve the right kind of God damned soy milk in this place. Now Starbucks, the one next to my apartment… good ol’ SB’s -- that’s my nickname for them -- now THEY serve the good stuff. West Soy. WS. Gotta love that crap.”

Without pausing or taking a breath, he jerked his head toward the window and pointed with his thumb to the parking lot.

“Did you see my ride? It’s a Chevy. Ya gotta love them American made VE-hicles. Those trucks are where it’s at, Cupcake. Where it is AT. Know what I mean?”

He winked again, grinned even wider, and checked out the woman sitting next to them to make sure she’d been listening.

April 27, 2010

Soothe Your Soul Roasted Chicken


It was a full weekend with the kids, including early morning baseball games, catching up on chores, grocery shopping, laundry and homework. Late Sunday afternoon, after a stint of unsuccessful, stressful/hectic prom-dress shopping with my oldest daughter, I gravitated to the kitchen in dire need of the best form of therapy I know:

Culinary Therapy.

I rinsed, chopped, peeled, and diced fresh veggies, then mashed herbs, garlic and lemon into butter with my bare fingers, preparing a creamy, magical mixture to smear on the chicken.
The heavy knife in my hand, the sound of water running in the kitchen sink, the pungent smell of garlic and fresh veggies made the ritual of preparing supper soothing and necessary. I craved an escape from the fruitless hunt through long skirts of neon satin with glittering rainbow-zebra-print halter tops, and rhinestone and sequin encrusted size 4 formalwear.

After an hour of immersing myself in the familiar surroundings of the kitchen, I began to heal from a harrowing day facing the weekend mall crowds, traffic, a stressed out teen and a rather limited budget. With dinner in the oven, I plopped down on the couch with a glass of leftover champagne spiked with Chambord pleasantly exhausted, and watched the eighties prom classic, "Pretty in Pink" with the girls.
 
Soon the heavenly smells of garlic, lemon, and herb chicken and sweet potatoes roasting in the oven engulfed us. The girls sighed with pleasure anticipating a delicious meal, and I finally felt a sense of accomplishment. I may not be the best when it comes to retail shopping and teen style, but I felt like one hell of a cook.

If I could only bake a dress for my daughter, all would be well with the world.



As most of you know, I’ve been on a Jamie Oliver kick and have been playing with his recipes. Although I changed around some of the ingredients, the original recipe for “Soothe Your Soul Roasted Chicken” is adapted from one of his fabulous cookbooks.

It will make your house smell wonderful and your children love you more.
Even when they are grumpy.


Ingredients:

• 1 whole roasting chicken (organic and hormone free if at all possible)
• 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
• 1 lemon
• 3 cloves garlic, peeled
• 2 heaping Tbs dried rosemary
• 2 big pinches of salt
• 1 giant pinch of freshly ground pepper

Veggies to roast with the bird~
• 1 head of broccoli cut into chunks
• 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
• 2 handfuls of snow peas

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and set out a large baking or casserole pan.

Wash and chop the veggies and set aside in a separate bowl, we’ll get to these later.

Rinse the chicken, remove any innards from the cavity and pat it down with a paper towel then transfer into the baking dish. Carefully push your fingers up underneath the skin, gently separating it from the breast of chicken but not tearing it.

Meanwhile, put the stick of butter into a dish and sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Peel the lemon and then finely mince the peel and add to the butter. Finely chop the garlic and toss into the mix along with the dried rosemary. Mash together with your fingers until well incorporated and press most of the herb, lemon and garlic mixture up under the loosened skin of the chicken. Rub the rest over the outside of the chicken.

Cut the remaining naked lemon in half and stuff into the empty cavity of your bird.

Now pop the dish with the chicken into the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, lift the dish out; remove the chicken carefully for just a minute, and set onto a separate plate. Then toss the veggies into the melted herb butter in the hot casserole dish… you should hear a bit of a sizzle. Using a spoon, push them around a bit until they are slightly coated and glazed with the melted butter and chicken drippings, then put the chicken back on top of them and return the dish to the oven.

Bake for another 40 minutes. Remove and let sit for at least 10 minutes before carving.

*While the bird rests, I usually peel and cut up a couple of sweet potatoes, put them onto a cookie sheet lined with foil and drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle them with a little sea salt. You can bake them in the 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes and have a perfect side dish for your Chicken Supper.

April 23, 2010

Youth Salad

The hubs went with his man-pals to the Blazer game last night, leaving me to forage for dinner on my own.


When the kids are not with us during the week, and he is out for the evening, I’ve been known to eat the worst, malnutritious, embarrassing kind of dinner. Like a huge bag of peanut M&M’s, Red Vines, popcorn, or nacho Doritos. Yes. It’s true and I hate to admit it, but for as much as I preach about eating healthy non-processed foods, I have my secret guilty pleasures. When no one is looking, I can pig out like nobody’s business.

And it’s not pretty.

But when I tossed the Twizzler’s into my cart last night at the grocery store, I did an unusual thing. I practiced self restraint. I actually put them back with the other shiny plastic looking confections in the candy aisle and bought a fillet of salmon, some organic strawberries, and an avocado.

When I got home, I whipped up a dinner that is supposed to be good for my skin, my brain and my heart. Supposedly antioxidants and omega fatty acids will keep me young and relatively good looking. And since I’m chicken when it comes to imagining Botox injections, and I love to eat, I figured I’d much rather use food as a beauty treatment.

I baked the salmon on a cookie sheet lined with foil after drizzling it with olive oil and sprinkling on a little Himalayan sea salt and cracked pepper. The salad was fast, fabulous and simple to make. The trick was using a whole avocado, several big, ripe juicy strawberries, and just a little bit of greens. The unusual ratio of fruit and avocado to greens made it more yummy than usual.  I suppose you could try spinach instead of regular lettuce if you prefer.

Youth Salad (for One)
• 1 cup mixed spring greens
• 5 large sliced strawberries
• 1 avocado diced
• A big handful of toasted chopped hazelnuts (or whatever kind you have in the cupboard)
• A dollop of dressing (I just used olive oil and balsamic vinegar)
• A small pinch of Himalayan sea salt

Slice, dice, toss and you are ready to eat.

April 22, 2010

Mom Jeans.


Blue Jeans, originally uploaded by Frans (3Djavu.nl).
It's casual Friday tomorrow. Jeans at the office. Nice jeans, dark blue, maybe skinny or flared, but definitely not Mom Jeans.

The name horrifies me.
It’s been tossed around these days on What Not to Wear and People Magazine. It’s used to describe that sheath of denim that covers about an inch above a woman’s belly button, the back pockets placed high on a woman’s hips making her ass look about 4 inches higher than it should, a snug but forgiving thigh, and usually pegged at the ankle… ala 80’s.

It's horrifying because that "cut" of jeans is what I wore most of my life.

In the eighties, they were cool. James Jean, San Francisco Riding Gear, Normandy Rose Jeans (with glitter sewn right in). I wore them with a huge comb in the back pocket that said something sexy like “Curves Ahead”, and tucked them into light pink suede slouchy boots. I saved my babysitting money for a month to afford them and reveled in the fact that my mom totally didn’t get it and said things like: “you could buy three pairs of jeans for the same price at Sears” and “they should pay you to wear their label. It’s free advertising”. I coveted them and wept when they went through the dryer and became forever mottled with melted Bonnie Bell Dr. Pepper lip gloss.

As a stay at home Mom, they were the only thing I wore other than sweat pants. I thought they were perfect, because the high waist at least made it look like I had one. They were also awesome because I could perform origami with my post-baby stomach and zip it neatly into submission.

The huge leather badge at the waistband that advertised San Francisco Riding Gear was replaced by the words Wrangler and Lee, and the rise comfortably covered enormous cotton briefs (briefs not bikinis-- in other words, Granny Panties that came in a 6 pack from Costco) After all, once you’ve given birth to 2 or 3 children, sexy underwear is a thing of the past.

I’ve tried low slung hip hugger jeans that are in fashion now. I want more than anything to be a sexy hip 40 something Mom-creature that sports stylish denim with high heel boots. I’ve studied the magazines, been admonished by my teen-age daughter and watched marathon episodes of “What Not To Wear”, so I know better.

But I still hear the siren call of the Mom Jeans. 

The high waisted, acid washed, high back-pocketed, pleated Calvin Klein’s hanging in my closet mock and tempt me.

Recently MSN reported cattily that Jessica Simpson was recently caught wearing a pair.
I think I like her better now.

Earth Day 2010


To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.

Helen Keller

April 21, 2010

Grilled Pizza with Pears, Gorgonzola and Toasted Hazelnuts


I married my Subtly Amazing husband almost five years ago.


He is amazing for many reasons, but one of them is because he inherited an “insta-family” when he married me and he has embraced his role as a step-dad with open arms and an open heart.

As a couple, we have the unusual luxury of switching between being full-time parents one weekend and on our own the next. We get to attend baseball, volleyball, and softball games for the kids some weekends and spend romantic weekends alone every once in a while. Shortly before we were married, we even travelled to Italy to see his friend get married in a 14th century cathedral between Verona and Venice. It was the first time I’d ever travelled outside of the country and the first vacation I’d been on as an adult without kids. It was terribly romantic, but I still dream of taking them with us and stay in a villa in Tuscany someday.

Sigh.


That summer in 2005 we took the train everywhere. We stayed in quaint hotels, drank espresso and wine, took photos with a vintage Pentax, and ate our way through Northern Italy.


One of my favorite memories is of a simple grilled thin crust pizza we shared with a sublime bottle of wine in Venice along the Grand Canal. I’ve played with this recipe at home for the last few years and I think I’ve finally gotten it right.

Every time I make it for dinner, it takes us back to our pre-honeymoon in Italy.

The kids went with us for our actual honeymoon, but that’s another story.

Grilled Pizza with Pears, Gorgonzola and Toasted Hazelnuts

I like to make this at night after work, so I cheat and buy readymade pizza dough at Trader Joe’s in a bag. You can find it in the deli section at Tj’s, near the cheeses and fresh pasta.

Toppings:

• 8 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese
• 1 pear (about), halved, cored, very thinly sliced
• 1/4 cup caramelized sweet onion
• 1/3 cup toasted hazelnut or walnut pieces, coarsely broken
• Freshly cracked black pepper
• Extra-virgin olive oil

Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Transfer pizza to grill. Cover and cook until cheese softens and crust is golden on bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer pizzas to work surface. Sprinkle with pepper; drizzle with a little additional olive oil. Cut into wedges and serve.

Side note: The grill is medium-hot when you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 3 to 4 seconds.

{pizza pic from Epicurious, all other photos by yours truly}

April 20, 2010

Romantic Weekend Get-Away

I love the smell of freshly brewed coffee, early in the morning, against the backdrop of a cold house. I’m not sure why it’s different when the house is chilly. It just is, and it’s lovely.

I’m sitting in the corner of a room on a soft, velvet-covered futon couch, wrapped in a warm, hand-stitched cotton calico quilt. Kevin found this treasure of a hideaway on the Benton County tourism website just a couple of days before we were to arrive.
A smallish barn-shaped cottage, a stone’s throw from the owner’s home, sat underneath the skeleton of an old tree house.
Kevin unloaded our laptop, the backpack with our clothes, and my camera bag from the car, and told me the code to open our door had simply been programmed with our telephone number. I plugged the numbers in and resigned myself to what I might find once we entered.
A tiny entry way table with a vintage looking lamp and a glass plate with chewy, homemade, peanut-butter-and-chocolate-chip cookies wrapped in foil labeled “cookies” greeted us at the door.
The room was dark, but softly lit with hundreds of tiny, white Christmas tree lights carefully strung through a naturally dried garland of hops trimming the ceiling over the wrought-iron bed. It was a cozy sanctuary and reminded me of a honeymoon cottage in the forest… simple and clean, but with luxurious accents like deep crimson, high count cotton sheets and layers of comforters’, quilts and velvety throws to pile on the bed in case you are chilled.
The windows were covered with handmade curtains and the little bathroom off the bedroom was outfitted with plenty of thick cotton towels, a huge double shower, and a modern country sink. We set our backpack of clothes down in front of the antique dark oak armoire and headed up the narrow stairway.
An airy, light-filled loft with shining wood floors surrounded by windows and a full deck greeted us. The room was open with a small kitchen, an elegant glass-and-iron table for two, a futon couch, rocking chair, gas cast-iron stove fireplace and a large flat screen TV with a DVD player. This cottage had everything one could want for a getaway weekend.
The owners’ children played quietly in the distant field, herding chickens into the henhouse and playing hide-and-seek in the grass.  They rendered the background noise that evening with the faint sound of children’s laughter mingling with a chorus of frogs croaking in the distance. Country music.

As I sat at the window with a glass of champagne from the local Corvallis co-op to write, I felt cozy and at peace.
All of the details had been tended to, and this morning I have found even more lovely touches that make me love this secret space even more; the cupboard in the kitchen, the one just over the coffee maker, tea kettle, and double burner, is stocked with everything one could need – an impressive Yogi Tea collection, gourmet hot chocolate mix, sugar, non-dairy creamer (fresh milk was provided in the small fridge), quality coffee beans -- even an extra bag of decaf and a grinder. A wicker basket filled with fresh bagels rests on the microwave next to a stained glass rooster nightlight, along with cream cheese, two yogurts, salad dressing and juice in the small fridge. A bowl with bananas and an orange rests on the tiny table as well. Every need has been thought of and the easy makings of a light continental breakfast awaits us for when Kevin comes upstairs.
The only problem is, I think as I write this, is that if too many other people will find out about our new hideaway it might not be available as often as I might want to escape. I sort of love the fact that for now, it’s our own little treasure chest, a warm romantic place seemingly light years away from the rest of the world.... a honeymoon cottage just an hour and half drive from the city.

April 19, 2010

Cooking with Kids

Since the hubs and I work at a culinary school, of course my children have been practically raised around fresh food, creative recipes, and people who love to cook for a living. Like almost all families, we have a few consistent recipes that we often make at home, and most of our celebrations, birthdays and holidays are centered around delicious food. All three children like to cook. Lizzie seems to prefer baking, but even she is open to creating savory dishes, such as Indian Dal and Oven Roasted Garlic served on a crispy baguette.

Emma is a wonderful little cook. She called me over the weekend from her friend’s house to find out if there was an appropriate substitute for eggs as she was making pancake batter after spending the night. (Before I could even fill her in, she had experimented successfully with mashed banana).

We spend a lot of time cooking together and talking about recipes and food. In the summer, I try to get them to visit the local Farmer's Market with me and choose the best looking veggies to serve with dinner. I've had a bit of a hard time, though, getting my little Emma to eat her veggies. I've decided to let her help even more in the process of buying those particular groceries and helping me cook them with the hopes that she'll be more inclined to taste and eat something she's had a hand in.

In the meantime, usually any veg, no matter how healthy it looks, accompanied by gooey melted cheese, will be eaten by a child.

Broccoli with Melted Chedder Cheese Dipping Sauce
 


  • 1 pound broccoli, cut into 1-inch florets with about 2 inches of stem attached
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard mixed with 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 6 ounces sharp or mild white cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt

 Directions:

In a large, deep saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Fill a steamer basket with the broccoli, add it to the saucepan, cover and steam over high heat until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

 Transfer the broccoli to a platter.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk over medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add the milk and cream and cook, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the mustard and cheese and cook over moderately low heat until the cheese is melted. Season the sauce with salt, transfer to a bowl and serve with the broccoli.

{recipe via Food & Wine magazine}

April 17, 2010

lovin this

Walk Into the World With Your Heart Wide Open

Emma, originally uploaded by uncommonmuse.

April 16, 2010

Pretty in Pink: Champagne Cocktail Punch

An electric pink Champagne Cocktail served in a Punch Bowl is absolutely feminine and nostalgic and used to be the heart and soul of a good party.

Punchbowls  are the Lolita of serving ware.

But sadly, like frothy tulle petticoats, Punchbowls and their deliciously naughty, girly contents seem to have fallen out of fashion and barely anyone has one in their cupboard anymore. 

I’ve decided to bring back The Punchbowl. In my own little world at least.

I'm going to search garage sales and thrift stores. 
... and if I can just find those dainty sweet and innocent little cups that hang off the side with matching clear glass snack plates, I will be a happy happy girl.

Pink Champagne Punch
(charmingly lethal)

• 1 bottle of pink champagne
• 2 pints of good quality raspberry sherbet or sorbet
• large bottle of sparkling pink lemonade from Trader Joes (highbrow) or 1 liter of Cherry 7’Up (lowbrow)

Pour all of the ingredients together into a fancy schmancy vintage punch bowl, toss in some ice and a big glass ladle and take a swig.  Be sure to smack your lips loudly and reapply your frosted lipstick.

Celebrate the weekend in style kittens.

April 15, 2010

Another Excuse to Indulge in Chocolate


Long ago, cocoa beans were used as currency.

Back then, if you were Aztec, you may have bought a turkey for one hundred beans or an avocado for three. Cacao made into a beverage was drunk as a medicinal beverage in Jamaica and served to patients for its health benefits by Apocrathy's. Chocolate's also been touted as the ultimate aphrodisiac and ancient Mayan's believed cocoa fought fatigue and fermented cacao based beverages were served at sacred ceremonies to induce a sense of well being and contentment with the universe.

In other words, Chocolate is Good.

I absolutely love the feeling of biting through a piece of high quality chocolate. Your teeth sort of push through lovely little smooth layers, and then the bitter-sweet taste and silky feel of it melts onto your tongue. It’s exotic, heavenly and comforting all at once.

Dark chocolate is one of my favorite guilty pleasures and is finally being touted for its health benefits. If you eat a small square before bed, it may even count as a vitamin. (wink wink) I’ve tried to explain to my hubby that if I eat a bite of dark chocolate before bed I don’t even need to brush my teeth. After all, studies have shown that the antioxidants may even fight the bacteria that cause tooth decay.

I think I should invent chocolate mouthwash.

Chocolate mouthwash may not be available on super market shelves just yet, but one of the graduates of my Culinary School has the perfect confection to cure your chocolate cravings and make you feel natural, healthy, and like a good little conscientious consumer to boot. Daren Hayes, graduate of Oregon Culinary Institute, is a raw chocolate alchemist and has created a fabulous little company called Stirs the Soul Chocolate. It’s local, independently owned, good for you and absolutely delish.

Maybe, just maybe, it can even improve your love life.
Which is the best excuse of all to indulge.

April 14, 2010

Ultimate Guacamole


The name is reminiscent of a Super Hero.

Gorgeously green, subtly tinged with a light squeeze of lemon, a pinch of salt, and the warm nuance of garlic, this is absolutely the best recipe for guacamole I’ve ever tasted. (And believe me, I’ve had a fair share of the green stuff).

My Subtly Amazing husband is actually a subtly amazing cook when he puts his mind to it. This is his go-to recipe. I bet he makes a batch at least once a week.

He whips it up for last minute company, and when we have a dinner party to go to, or simply to celebrate Friday afternoon. Sometimes, if I play my cards right and bat my lashes when I am craving it, even Wednesday afternoons.

I’ve been known to eat nothing but chips and guac for dinner.

This is not only the freshest and best tasting recipe for guacamole I’ve sampled, but there are only a few basic ingredients. It’s so simple to make, he’s passed the recipe down to my son:

· 1 or 2 large ripe avocados (preferably organic)
· 1 large clove of garlic finely minced or pushed through a garlic press
· A couple glugs of high quality olive oil (makes it extra rich and creamy)
· A Squeeze of lemon or lime juice to taste
· A pinch or 2 of sea salt

Mash together the avocados, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice with a fork, then season with a few dashes of salt.

*Be sure to put the avocado pit right into the bowl along with your glowing green concoction if you are preparing it in anticipation that it won’t be consumed immediately. The pit helps to keep it fresh tasting and void of unsavory browning.

Serve with pita chips, blue corn chips or your favorite brand corn chip. Also delicious served on toasted bread with a little smudge of cream cheese and a slice of cucumber... my sons favorite breakfast treat.






Glamourous Sixties Vibe


 When I was a kid I adored 007. His suave tuxedo, slicked back hair and martini were to die for. I'd stay up late and watch the movies with my dad.

As much as I wanted to portray the adventure and calm cool demeanor of James Bond himself, I wished I could look the women in his movies. Sexy smart super sleuth-y women wooed Bond with their feminine prowess and either became his protective ally or mortal enemy.

Either way, they were gorgeous to the point of being dangerous.
And what I would give for a tube of lipstick that doubled as a fabulous spy tool!

Sexy-sixties style has stuck with me as the ultimate in classic glamour inspiration. Every once in a while, I still attempt to channel my inner bond girl when I slip into tall boots and slather on black eye liner curling it up a bit at the ends.

Gotta love the classic sixties vibe going on in this cool little French video. Check it out ... it's sort of a mixture of Belinda Carlisle and Audrey Hepburn as a Bond girl~

April 13, 2010

Gorgeous Tattoo Stockings!



Va Va Voom.

I'm just not the sort of gal to bite the bullet and endure the pain of a true tattoo. It's also the kind of long term comittment I'm not hip enough to make.

But stockings, now that's another matter entirely. This little Etsy Shop has adorable and stlyish stockings that will help me fake my way through.

Just think sexy urban-hipster chick meets Bettie Paige.

Thai Coconut-Chicken Soup



It's a soup sort of day. This is what I'm making for dinner tonight, and if we're lucky, there will be leftovers for lunch tomorrow...


Ingredients:

• 4 ounces cellophane or thin rice noodles
• 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (best quality you can afford)
• 1–2 red Thai (or jalapeƱo) peppers, seeded and finely chopped (plus slices for garnish)
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 tablespoon grated ginger
• 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
• 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
• 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
• 4 tablespoons Thai fish sauce, divided
• 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced (3 cups)
• 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 5 ounces each), cut into 2 1/2-inch-long by 1/4-inch-wide strips
• 1 full can of light coconut milk
• 2 cups baby spinach
• 1 cup fresh bright green snow peas
• 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro (plus sprigs for garnish)
• 2 teaspoons red curry paste
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar


Preparation:

Place cellophane noodles in a bowl then add just enough warm water to cover them and let sit until soft. (about 15 minutes) Drain noodles. Combine chicken broth, peppers, garlic, ginger, lemon zest, lime zest, lime juice and 3 tablespoons of the fish sauce plus the brown sugar into a medium saucepan. Now season with a bit of salt. Bring to a broth to a gentle simmer, add noodles and cook 3 minutes more. Using tongs, transfer noodles to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Add mushrooms to broth and season with a tiny bit more salt then simmer 3 minutes more. Add chicken and coconut milk and bring to a simmer, stirring, until chicken is just cooked through, about 3 minutes or so. Stir in spinach until it begins to wilt, (about 1 minute) Add roughly chopped cilantro and season with remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce and red curry paste. Using tongs, divide noodles among 4 bowls. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of pepper.

{delish recipe found on Epicurious}

April 12, 2010

The Lost Art of the Knife and Fork


fork and knife, originally uploaded by Back Burner.
It’s no secret that I’ve been raving about Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution for the past few weeks.

My entire family has been seriously moved by Jamie’s passionate plea for the American people to open their eyes and see what has become of us in terms of what we think is acceptable to eat. Aside from what is served in our public schools, the simple fact is, that as a country, we treat food and the act of eating and often our very health as an afterthought. The truth is, all of those things are connected. It is the foundation of our quality of life.

I guess didn’t realize how bad things have gotten. In one of the shows we watched, Jamie had this particular conversation with a school lunch cook:

"We're tryin' to figure out how we're going to do this fork/spoon business," said Alice, one of the cooks in the school cafeteria. "They need a fork?"

Oliver: "Yeah, and a knife would be nice. They don't have a knife?"

"Oh no. No knives."

"You don't get your kids to use a knife and fork?" Oliver replies, confusion clouding his boyish features.

In an on-camera narration, he underscores: "[That] means from the age of 4 to 10, they never use a knife and fork!"

I am embarrassed to admit some of my own shortcomings as a busy parent. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I have often opted for what is easy vs. what is right.

Especially when it comes to food.

We as Americans are convenience oriented. From the beginning, we give our children tippy cups, Capri Sun Juice Bags, cardboard Juice Boxes and plastic water bottles instead of real drinking glasses and cups without lids. We eat on the run and drink on the run. As adults, we nurse “to go” coffee containers and Starbucks coffee with spill proof lids, a grown-up tippy cup. We do it out of shear necessity, to avoid annoying spills on furniture, in the car, on their clothes. It’s normal right? It makes complete sense and we don’t even think about it. Cleaning up our children’s spills or having them clean them is time consuming.

We consider ourselves good parents who are cognizant our children’s desire and need for snacks, by giving them prepackaged finger foods, that instantly satiate their appetite. But when we do this, when we eat “on the go” and “on the run” so often, even though we are satisfying our child’s basic need to eat, we devalue the act of eating itself.

By sharing so many meals this way, we inadvertently encourage and teach our children to overeat and not pay attention to what they eat because we are not stopping, not slowing down to sit down and eat. Have we completely traded in what is good and right for what is fast, cheap and easy?

I myself have, in a rushed panic, stopped at the drive through and tossed fast food into the backseat at my children so they can at least have basic carbs and calories to sustain them on their way to or home from a sport activity, birthday party or school function. I don’t just do it out of desperation; I do it because it seems normal. Almost all parents do it. We are oblivious to it anymore.

As Americans, we are deprived of nothing, and we are armed with pizza, Go-gurt, mozzarella sticks, hamburgers and chicken nuggets, so who needs cutlery? We have sporks. We have food that is instant and cheap, that can be eaten right out of its wrapper and had for 99 cents almost anywhere in a matter of minutes.

Reality is, we are busy parents with busy kids. But maybe, just maybe, we over schedule our children with never-ending sports, classes and activities, and maybe we’ve lost sight of some of the basic important things in life as a result. Don’t get me wrong, I know sports are important because they teach fairness, fitness and sportsmanship. But think about the reality of what is happening when our kids are constantly being chauffeured in the minivan from one thing to another with fast food and prepackaged snacks being thrown to them into the backseat… how healthy can our super-athletically involved kids be if we are trading excessive sports activities for unhealthy, thoughtless eating habits? What has happened to having time to sit with our kids at the table and talk to them about things that matter instead of only having time to talk to them while we drive them from one sport and activity to another?

As healthy families and individuals, we need to find the balance. We need to look at what we are becoming as a society that is always in a hurry. We should look at what our ultra-packed fast-paced schedule is doing to our kids.

It seems like we are beginning to figure out that we are what we eat. Maybe now we need to look at how we are beginning to resemble how we eat.

Maybe we should sit down to eat at least once a day with our family. We can teach our children to enjoy the act of shopping and cooking and eating and make time for it. We need to take time out of our busy schedules and focus on what is important, even if it means giving up something else.

Their health is worth it.

April 11, 2010

April 10, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

There's almost nothing quite so wonderful as the smell of warm vanilla, sweet cream butter and fresh coconut baking together into a golden cookie.  Vanilla coconut macaroons are about the simplest cookie to make and are the perfect blend of sweet, nutty, chewy and crisp.  


You can just pop them in your mouth, practically one after the other, and know that all is right with the world.
Brew up an afternoon pot of coffee or tea and enjoy your Saturday lovelies!  PS~ This particular recipe belongs to Chef Hammer at the Culinary School and is the BEST.  Give it a whirl.

6 oz sugar
6 oz macaroon coconut
1 oz corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp pastry flour
1 pinch of salt
3 egg whites

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl then warm over a pot of simmering water or let sit for 1 hour.  Once mixture has set for an hour or cooled, scoop small dollops onto parchment and bake on a cookie sheet at 375 degrees for about 13 minutes.

Gobble up while sipping a cup of Earl Grey.  

April 9, 2010

Kitchen-Love

I'm a sucker for a gorgeous kitchen.  It's my favorite room in the house.  Here are a couple photos that make my heart skip a beat...  I have to say, my own little kitchen has a very similar color scheme and feel!
{Photos from houzz via Uncle Beefy}

April 8, 2010

Classic Gorgeous Bit



This sort of thing always makes me happy.  Just try to resist.  I dare you.

My Beauties on Channel 6

Okay, so all last week I bragged about how my three darling rugrats were filmed by the channel 6 news station to be on the afternoon show: Keep it Local

Well, the piece has yet to air, but the experience was fabulous and the kids made DELISH homemade ravioli stuffed with a gorgeous crab, cheese and herb filling...





My favorite photo:  check out Spencer checking out the cute newscaster...  I totally caught him in the act of being so adorably/predictably 12.

duet


duet, originally uploaded by goodlux.
the most beautiful music.

April 7, 2010

The Things We Can't Let Go Of

The Things We Can't Let Go Of, originally uploaded by Lissy Elle.

Keeping things inside sometimes means we are simply turning experiences over in our minds and hands, polishing them up and letting them take time to become real and make sense.

The most beautiful ideas and works of art can come from haunting memories that are simply waiting to become something new. Well thought out words, after all is said and done, are illuminating and powerful.

Finally when the time is right, we give them wings.