Wednesday, August 21, 2013

tomato, garlic and ricotta pasta

Here's a quick weeknight meal for you--add any veggie you want. This came together in 15 minutes and was so fresh and flavorful.

I bought fresh pasta from a local shop, but you could easily use dried. Or be really ambitious and make it yourself!

tomato, garlic and ricotta pasta
2 tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 servings fresh pasta (a little of the cooking liquid reserved)
a handful of fresh parley
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons ricotta
juice of half a lemon
olive oil for cooking
  • put up water for your pasta--salt and drop pasta once its come to a boil
  • coat pan with olive oil, heat on medium and add tomatoes until they are cooked down, add garlic and lower heat
  • season veggies with salt and pepper, add parsley
  • add cooked pasta with 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and ricotta
  • squeeze lemon juice on top, stir together and serve

Thursday, August 15, 2013

spicy beef and pork burgers

These burgers were part of my "it's summer and I wish I had a grill" weekend a few weeks back. I must admit, in the meat department, I usually defer to Mike. As hard as I try, I overcook burgers more often than not, so we collaborated on the recipe and then I observed his cooking method like a hawk.  Feel free to steal his tricks..

spicy beef and pork burgers
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 hamburger bun, soaked in milk and squeezed out
1 tsp spicy BBQ seasoning
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp ground pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
a few shakes of worcestershire
2 tbsp butter
a few sprigs of thyme
pepper jack cheese, sliced (about 8 slices of the block)
a few handfuls of arugula
one tomato sliced
whole wheat hamburger buns
  • preheat pan on stove top with butter & thyme
  • mix beef, pork, soaked bread, worcestershire and seasonings in a bowl and form two burger patties
  • season outsides with salt and pepper and place in pan-let them cook for on low-medium for about 5-6 minutes
  • flip burgers and tilt pan toward you so butter is pooled at the edge
  • using a spoon, spoon the butter over the burgers, basting the meat for a minute or so
  • repeat this a few times
  • after the second side is cooking for about 5-6 minutes, add cheese and let melt (you can also put a pot lid on top to steam/speed up the melting)
  • serve with the tomato and arugula (and BBQ sauce, of course!)

chili rubbed corn
2 pieces of corn, shucked
4 pats of butter
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • microwave corn with butter pats for 8-10 minutes
  • mix spices together in a small bowl, once corm is cooked and slightly cool rub spice mixture over corn and serve

pan-roasted brocollini
1 bunch of brocollini, diced
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper for seasoning
  • toss all ingredients into a pre-heated pan on medium for 7 minutes, tossing ocassionally
  • serve alongside corn and burgers

All of these recipes would be amazing on the grill--I would refrain from dicing the brocollini and rub the corn with some butter prior to putting it on the grill

Happy Grilling!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

a brief departure series: bathroom decorating

In the third installment of my decorating series I am venturing into the bathroom.

About 8 months ago I redecorated my current bathroom in an attempt to stifle my urge to move to a larger/newer place. I found a brightly colored shower curtain, bright yellow towels and brought it all together with teal, white and yellow accessories.

I LOVE my current bathroom. If I can re-purpose any of it I will. But in case I can't...I love the idea of bright walls and an all white bathroom-so clean, fresh and simple. Most importantly--CLASSIC.

updated: to include where you can find these beautiful pieces. 

how cute is that bunny cotton ball holder?!

clockwise from top: bunny cotton ball holder; antique white soap dish; white satin stripe shower curtain; ladder shelf; flower hook; "home is wherever i'm with you" sign; photo courtesy of bhg, color paint colors I like here, here & here

Monday, August 12, 2013

what I ate this weekend..

We had a cheese and meat plate with wine for dinner Friday night.
honey goat, brie, raspberries, berry jam, english cheddar, soppressata,  toasted bread and strawberries on the side

I found this new wine at Trader Joe's--a really delicious Tempranillo for $8!!

Saturday I took Mike to Ike's for his first time ever. We ate our sandwiches in Dolores Park and relaxed in the sunshine.

Then we scarfed some Bi-Rite ice cream--their brownie sundae is out of control.

We ended the night with a few cocktails at House of Shields--my new obsession is a vodka gimlet, on the rocks-love the giant ice cube!

Sunday I made homemade soup stew--its been a particularly chilly SF summer and I wanted something to warm us up

taken on a walk last week--the transamerica building is somewhere among that fog..

chicken & veggie soup stew
2 chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper
4 carrots, diced
4 pieces of celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium sized squash, diced
2 cups baby spinach, slightly chopped
1 each red, orange, yellow mini bell peppers, diced
1 large potato, diced
1 bag of english peas (I used fresh, frozen works too)
7 sprigs thyme
a handful of fresh parley
salt, pepper, cayenne and crushed red pepper for seasoning
1 pint of vegetable broth
1 cup of water
a few glugs of olive oil

This turned out to be much thicker and was more of a stew than a soup, but was super hearty and had great flavor!

tip: dice all veggies a similar size so they cook evenly
  • preheat large pot with olive oil and a few thyme sprigs, place seasoned chicken breasts, skin side down
  • cook on medium-high heat, letting the outside get crispy, then flip
  • once the chicken is browned on both sides, take out and set aside
  • lower heat to medium, add a bit more oil and begin adding diced veggies. be sure to add the most firm ones first (carrots, celery, squash, peppers, onions, spinach, garlic in that order.) 
veggies cooking in their natural liquid
  • season liberally with salt and pepper, add a dash of cayenne and a few shakes of red pepper flakes
  • let all veggies saute in their own liquid until softened. add vegetable broth and cup of water, peas, potatoes, parsley and remaining thyme sprigs
  • add chicken to cook through, cover and let come to a low boil
  • after about 15 minutes of cooking, remove chicken and set aside, and pull out thyme stems
  • turn heat to low and let the soup cook for a few hours--it can be served at any point from here
  • slice chicken off bone and add to stew

we enjoyed this cozy stew with some cheesy panini--happy summer in SF!

Friday, August 9, 2013

its friday!!

Some pretty pics and things I am loving right now.

Have a fabulous weekend and enjoy the few summer ones we have left :)

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Last week Mike and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary and he surprised me by planning our very own version of Chopped. If you are not familiar with the show, first of all, go turn on the Food Network and catch an episode. Second, the concept is pretty simple: there are four contestants, three courses, and four items in a "mystery" basket for each course.

The chefs must use every mystery basket ingredient in their dish, and at the end of each course, one of them gets chopped.

Mike adopted the same concept, except for the two of us, with no judging and no chopping. We were celebrating our anniversary after all (even though we were both after blood.)

He had me pick random numbers and he made a list of ingredients from past Chopped episodes, corresponding to a number. The day before, I picked 4 numbers at a time and he would unveil the ingredients for that course. It made the whole process even more fun because I got to think obsess about what I would make with watermelon, ground beef, polenta and granny smith apples (first course ingredients.)

I would absolutely do this again, it was so much fun. It would be great to do with friends and have actual judges too!

a few shots of the basket with ingredients (yes he even bought an actual basket!)

The dishes we each made are below. While we didn't determine a winner, Mike won out for...creativity...and I swept everything else :)

first course: watermelon, granny smith apples, ground beef and polenta

second course: country style pork ribs, beets, rutebega and 5 year aged gouda

last course: pitas, ritz cheese crackers, condensed milk and whiskey

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

a brief departure series: living room decorating

As mentioned last week, I have been on a fantasy decorating kick. I know decorating a place happens after you move in, but I am doing some preliminary research: acquiring ideas of color schemes and accessories I want, as well as ensuring the whole place is cohesive.

I love the idea of a simply colored couch, a basic but versatile coffee table and then accessorizing with some bright colors. The artwork below ties everything perfectly together in my non-existent living room apartment :)

PS-I am nowhere near moving, just to give you a look into just how obsessive I am about this.

And now--my future living room [ideas]

definitely looking at a teal/coral/yellow color scheme with a more neutral backdrop
clockwise from top: wooden coffee table; map of the world pillow; yellow "love" pillow found via; bright abstract print; california print; teal watercolor print; printed ottoman, sold out, similar items here; blue chair; neutral couch

Monday, August 5, 2013

weekend 5k & lemon blueberry muffins

Four years ago I made a new years resolution to run a 5k. And yesterday, I finally did it.

I am prone to shin splints when I run and was cursed with them worse than ever before while training for this 5k. I hate running, and I hate the shin splits that come along with it even more.

But I signed myself up for this and was committed to seeing it through.

And ya know what? It turned out to be awesome--the adrenaline from the experience, coupled with people on the sidelines cheering us on really kept me going.

my first every race bib!

After the race, Mike took me to brunch to celebrate before heading off to work. The BART workers are threatening to strike, which for anyone outside the Bay Area, would cripple this city.

I had the afternoon to myself to clean, do some laundry and pick up a few items to eat.

race day treat-fresh buratta. and I am my mothers daughter--wine of course

I was in a baking mood and came across a blueberry and lemon loaf recipe from smitten kitchen that I turned into muffins. Have I ever mentioned I love lemon? Well this recipe is chock full of them.

I followed her recipe exactly, except for a few small notes: I used an extra egg since I did not have extra large ones and I doubled the sugar for the glaze on top. The recipe also yielded more batter than she had advised--I was able to make 12 muffins as well as two mini loaves.

As with all of my baked goods, they came to work with me today because I can not have that temptation laying around..

Thursday, August 1, 2013

lasagna roll-ups

I remember waking up Sunday mornings when I was growing up to the smell of sizzling garlic, onions and sweet tomato sauce on the stove.

If there is a smell that can take me back home, and take me to a moment quickest--it's that. One of my parents would wake up and start the sauce--it needs to cook all day on low heat, being stirred occasionally.

If my dad would start it, my mom would "sneak" in wine or tomato paste, always complaining his sauce was too "thin." Anyone who would walk into the kitchen for anything, at any point during the day, would be ordered to "stir the sauce."

After hours of cooking time, cooking the pasta, assembling the eggplant parm (or other delicious accompaniment) and setting the table, we would sit down as a family, always as a family, and have our Sunday dinner.

This morning before I even got out of bed I decided I was making sauce and using it for lasagna roll-ups. Mike and I would have a traditional Sunday "family" dinner and I spent hours in the kitchen making the sauce and prepping this meal.

He also requested (aka guilted me into making) mini meatballs--you may recall my Aunt Rose's recipe I shared on Easter. Those things are tiny and tedious, but so amazingly delicious!

So homemade tomato sauce with mini meatballs, all added to lasagna with ricotta cream. Seems super quick and easy right?

There are a lot of steps here but when you have a whole day to cook, dedicate the time. You can leave the meatballs out, but if you make them, miniaturize them.

And make your own sauce. You can pre-make it and freeze it but do not buy jarred sauce. If you are going to, just make something else.

I swear, this is easy enough to dedicate the time--not to mention worth it in the end.

tomato sauce
1 can tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano, a little pricier but a sweeter flavor)
1/2 small onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, diced
a few drizzles of olive oil
salt, pepper and red pepper flakes for seasoning
a few "glugs" of red wine
fresh basil and parsley if you have (a handful of each) otherwise about 1/2 tbsp of each dried
  • pre-heat a pot on medium-low heat with olive oil and start to cook your diced onions, then add the garlic just as they start to get light brown
  • watch the onion/garlic mixture because it can burn quickly and give the sauce a bitter taste
  • add the canned tomatoes, plus half of the can filled with water
  • if the tomatoes are not pureed, it's fine-they will break down a bit as you cook them and give you a semi-chunky sauce. 
  • if you like a smoother sauce, puree before you put them in the pot with a blender
  • add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and a few glugs of wine and let it come to a boil
  • cook on low heat for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally adding seasonings and wine as you taste (I end up adding quite a bit of wine by the time I'm done--I would say 1/2 cup)
  • right before serving, add fresh parsley/basil-if using dried, add at any point
 miniature meatballs
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano if you have it--I didn't and used 3 spoonfuls of ricotta instead
1 large handful of fresh parsley, chopped-use 1 tbsp if dried
1 piece of bread, soaked in milk or water with excess liquid squeezed out (you can use white of whole wheat)
a few drizzles of olive oil-save some for cooking
a few splashes of water as needed
salt & pepper for seasoning
  • mix all ingredients together by hand--remember these are all about feel and you want them to be moist but not too moist that you cant form the meatball
  • add water if they are not moist enough, and if they do not come together, use a bit more soaked bread or a half of an egg
  • form the mixture into tiny balls-about the size of a penny
  • make around two dozen, and pre-heat a pan with olive oil and add the meatballs
  • if you are going to put all of them in sauce, you can brown them on each side, but slightly under cook them as they will cook more in the sauce
  • once that batch is done, lower the heat, add more oil, and form a bunch more, adding to the pan as you go
  • with all of that meat, I ended up making around 5 regular sized ones for Mike to snack on because we had a ton of minis and they are a pain to make!
tip: you can also use all beef, but I liked the addition of the pork

lasagna roll-ups & mixture
1/2 lb of lasagna
1 bag of baby spinach, sauteed with olive oil, s&p
1 small container of ricotta--use the full fat version
1 lb of mozz, grated at home (again, buy the full fat version)-put some aside for topping
2 eggs
salt & pepper for seasoning
a half handful of fresh parsley

pre-heat oven to 350
  • put up a pot to boil for the pasta-once the pasta is added, put in some olive oil to keep the sheets from sticking
  • mix all other ingredients together in a bowl, save for some mozz for the top of your roll-ups add a few handfuls of the mini meatballs not in the sauce
  • under cook pasta by about 2-3 minutes (it will cook more in the oven) drain and cool cooked pasta
  • lay out pasta, and spread mixture on the entire sheet, as thin as possible (I ended up breaking up the meatballs a bit--still not small enough!)

  • roll up and place in a 11x9 pan with a bit of olive oil on the bottom
  • continue with all your sheets (I fit 12 roll-ups in one tray)
  • cover the roll-ups with sauce and grated cheese, and pop in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the cheese is bubbly
have a bottle of wine on hand, serve with some fresh salad and maybe garlic bread? (so easy to make, just infuse oil or butter with garlic, spread on both sides of bread with some mozz and bake in tin foil for 15 mins)

Most importantly--have a bottle of wine on hand. Did I say that already??