In honor of Liz Lemon, one of my favorite TV characters from 30 Rock, I made a smiley face out of the lemons that ARE GROWING IN OUR BACKYARD! Yeah boiiiii!
In honor of Liz Lemon, one of my favorite TV characters from 30 Rock, I made a smiley face out of the lemons that ARE GROWING IN OUR BACKYARD! Yeah boiiiii!
Sunday started off with breakfast in the backyard (weather was gorgeous) – wholewheat flax waffles I whipped up from scratch and a mini omelette.
Before long, dinnertime rolled around. Couldn’t resist a fresh salad with a fried egg on top. I’m currently obsessed with putting a fried egg on top of everything.
I still had half a pound of ground beef left over so I made Chris a taco casserole that had layers of tortilla chips in the center and globs of melted cheese on top.
Here, have a slice.
The weather was still amazing (one of the perks of living in Los Angeles) so we took dinner outside to the backyard, where Chris set the table with romantic candles and a giant rose he picked for me. Awww.
I’m all about leftovers so the next morning I whipped up breakfast: another hunk of the taco casserole from the night before and a fried egg on top. Now that’s what I call a breakfast of champions.
He just tasted something realllly delicious. Just kidding. I caught him in mid-lick.
I had one of the best foodie weekends – great food, great weather and of course, great company.
Saturday kicked off with an omelette made of sundried tomatoes, spinach and chunks of haloumi cheese (my latest dairy obsession!) I couldn’t resist a glass of white wine with my brunch while I basked in the sun and flipped through Giada’s cookbook.
Dinnertime rolled around and I couldn’t wait to serve up the appetizer, slow roasted vine-ripened tomatoes (which I had cooking in the oven for four hours that afternoon at 275 degrees.) I topped the juicy slices with more haloumi cheese, freshly minced basil from our herb garden and a sprinkling of sea salt.
Even though I’m a vegetarian, I have no qualms about handling meat. One of my favorite dishes to prepare is meatballs from scratch. Whole Foods had a bargain deal for their ground beef so I picked up a pound of it to make Chris some homemade meatballs along with a side of wheat parpadelle. For the meatballs, all I did was mix the beef with some milk, eggs, panko, herbs and salt and pepper. Using a little OXO scoop, I formed perfectly round balls, which I seared in the All Clad in olive oil, then added the marinara sauce and brought it all to a simmer.
Also added a fresh salad to the mix – avocado, haloumi (can’t get enough!), sundried tomato and tasty greens.
Parpadelle and meatballs with shavings of fresh parmesan…mmmm.
Some dogs have it all. Guido’s one of them. He spends his sunny days sunbathing on the backyard deck. Ah, envy.
I love eating in reverse, especially breakfast for dessert. I’m talking about my mini waffles that I whip up from scratch and cook in our lovable UNO waffle maker that we scored at last year’s Cooking.com sample sale. I’m determined to make THE perfect Liege waffle, but that will require a trip to IKEA so I can pick up a pack of pearl sugar (sold only at IKEA in the states apparently.) Odd, huh? They carry it in the Swedish grocer/cafe section. Until then, of course, I satisfy my sweet tooth with a basic waffle that’s been showered with powdered sugar and maple syrup for an oh-so tasty post dinner treat.
I love my long rectangular plates from Cost Plus. They allow me to experiment with a “trio” of foods like this dinner we made a few nights ago. You have (starting from the left): roasted corn and asparagus salad, BBQ’d tuna that had been marinated in a soy glaze, my famous tofu mashed up “salad”.
I need to end the madness of nonstop snacking on sweet stuff. Inspired by an article in SELF magazine on healthy meals, I started my weekend morning off right with some toasted hemp and flax bagel from French Meadow and a tofu “mash” of vegan mayo, salt, pepper and mustard. I know it sounds disgusting and I’m sure it would taste that way if you’re used to bacon and eggs. Luckily I love tofu.
I’m all about fiber-rich foods, so when I read that the Hemp Bagels from French Meadow contained 51% fiber, I had to give it a shot. We’re talking about 51% here, people! The Ezekiel Sprouted Grain bread only contains, what, like 12% or something. The texture of these bagels is hearty, grainy, and dense so if you’re a fan of white Wonder bread, don’t bother with this because it probably won’t be up your alley. But, if you’re anything like me, and enjoy the taste of bread sprinkled with flax and seeds, you will love this. Toast it, butter it, and throw some strawberry jam on top for a delicious breakfast. Lately, I’ve been on a kick where I scramble up some eggs and truffle butter and make a filling sandwich.
Caffe Luxxe on Montana Avenue makes the most delightful soy hot chocolate, complete with a heart design on top. The little Italian cookie is also sold at this charming coffee shop – it’s a swirl of sweet flavors packed into a two-bite pastry.
One of the best things about being in a relationship is you always have an excuse to cook more food. You don’t necessarily have to eat ALL of it, but it’s just so much more of an enjoyable experience when you can make great food, then share it with your special someone. Chris and I have a favorite pastime called “progressive dinners” on the weekends. What that really means is “eat consistently from 4pm to 10pm”.
We started off making roasted asparagus with a homemade hollandaise sauce. I heart asparagus SO much. It’s light and healthy and you can cook it so many ways because it acts as a fantastic canvas for flavors and sauces. The hollandaise was surprisingly easy to make. I used the leftovers for eggs benedict the next morning.
After our little appetizer, we moved on to making pizzas. Forget making your own dough – as much as I love being in the kitchen, I don’t see the need in making pizza dough from scratch and having to waste time with the cleanup afterwards. Whole Foods actually has pretty great pizza dough that you can buy in a fresh little ball for about two bucks. So worth it. We made grilled pizzas this time and just pounded out the dough, brushed it with olive oil and threw it onto the grill pan. We had a vegetarian pizza (eggplant, some feta cheese, asparagus) and the meat lovers pizza (meat, cheese, meat).
Chris ended our progressive dinner with a recipe from Tom Colicchio’s book, “Think Like A Chef”: the salt salmon. The recipe was unbelievably simple but the flavors were packin’. One warning: you have to use a TON of salt for this. And if you don’t like salty foods, don’t even look at the pictures below. It might make you cringe.
We stir fried it up the other night with yakisoba noodles we got from a market in K-Town. I love stir fries. I love noodles in general but something about almost crispy noodles, perfectly coated with sesame oil and soy sauce, and combined with vegetables is sooooo good and the ideal dinner after a long day at work.
The noodle packet. Pretty boring looking.
Ah, but throw it together with some sesame oil, soy sauce, and veggies and you have THIS! BAM!
The final product. It was gone in 60 seconds.
Dessert! I made little cupcakes stuffed with candy bars and of course had to help myself to a spoonful of coffee ice cream.
I made dinner this past weekend. I was in one of those “cookin’ up a storm” moods, plus I had my mom over on Saturday night so of course she gets the special treatment!
Saturday: spinach quiche baked in a wholemeal crust with a side salad of fresh greens, dried cranberries and walnuts.
Dessert was a tangerine and strawberry clafoutis. I usually make banana clafoutis so this combo was new for me.
Sunday night I made little spinach salmon cakes with the leftover spinach quiche and buttery mashed po-po’s. The little cakes came out surprisingly moist considering I used a piece of grilled salmon that I mashed up into little bits and LOTS of panko. The potatoes were tasty – for once, I didn’t over salt it and I’m glad I didn’t.
Chris made a chicken roll-up with prosciutto and cheese inside. First he hammered it out with the tenderizer, then carefully rolled it up, then grilled it on the outdoor BBQ before throwing it into the oven to roast a bit. I don’t eat chicken but man, it looked good.
Hit up Tavern On The Green, only because I hadn’t been to Central Park yet and I’ve heard so much about this old school institution.
Upstairs at the bar.
Downstairs, we sipped cocktails.
Lunch: quick bite to eat at the healthy place, Pret-A-Manger.
Dinner: Artichoke, which had a line down the street. They’re known for their pizzas. We got the artichoke pizza: super thick fresh crust topped with what looked like cream of mushroom soup and tasted like BLISS.
Dessert at Kyotofu-NYC. We got the pear tart. It came with a shot glass of cream on the side, which you can see Jenn drizzling over the tart.
Freemans is famous. Or so I hear. I didn’t believe that this restaurant was really situated at the back of some ghetto-looking alley…but it was. And boy was it a cute place with excellent food. The decor consisted of (what else) flickering mood-enhancing candles, deer heads along the walls, rickety wooden chairs and tiny tables crammed next to one another. The place was packed and our wait was almost two hours but we chilled by the bar, threw back some drinks, and snacked on their bomb-tastic artichoke dip while anxiously looking around to see when a table would open up. It was our fault for not eating all day but when you’re running from one appointment to the next, who has time to eat? As we watched plates of succulent savory dishes exit the kitchen, our stomachs began to grumble louder and louder. And then….”Melissa, table for 3″ was announced
Started the night with an appetizer of mussels and toasted baguette dunked in some sort of white wine broth.
I ordered the diver scallops.
Jenn and Nicole shared the grits and a filet mignon.
Ended the night with dessert, of course.
Me in the alley leading up to the restaurant. Yeeeehaw!
Wednesday in NYC consisted of a big slice of pizza for lunch and then dessert at Serendipity around 11pm. Yes, we actually went out that late to try the place, which we heard was the ultimate tourist zone but so worth it.
At the pizza place earlier, snappin’ away.
Later that night at Serendipity. Check out their old-world lighting.
I like menus with drawings.
The peanut butter pie.
Me with what’s left of the plate.
A random “concept shot” while waiting at a cafe in NYC – what’s a “concept shot”, you ask? Good question. I made it up – basically means a picture of things that don’t really make sense but I like it anyway.
We hit up The Stanton Social when we were in NYC to have dinner with Jenn’s friend, Annabella. I absolutely adored the neighborhood: brownstones, little walk-ups, brick buildings, dimly lit streets. Excuse my blurred images below – I was trying to capture the mood lighting and also not upset the group of hipsters at the table next to us with my camera flash.
Started the evening off right with a gin + tonic.
We ordered items including their mouth-watering mac ‘n cheese, the ooey gooey sliders, roasted beets, haricot verts with garlic, and fish tacos.
The vibe upstairs, where we sat.
Dessert: fried doughnut balls with special sauce
Foolin’ around in the kitchen during prep for an eggplant parmesan dish.
So I’m kind of going backwards in time here. Now that it’s the weekend, I can sit and sort through all 720 pictures I took in NY (I know, I have asian tourist syndrome. What can I say?) Anyway, let’s start the journey with my little documentation of our first night there…dinner at the famous Spotted Pig which came highly recommended by EVERYONE before we went. What I loved about this place was its dark, cozy interior (brick walls, flickering candles, mood lighting all around), the quiet hum of people chatting to each other at their tables and ultimately the food. Despite being at the top of everyone’s “OMG YOU HAVE TO EAT HERE” list, The Spotted Pig was delightfully “un-scene”…the wait only took 30 minutes, which was enough time for us girls to have a Salty Pig at the upstairs bar. There were no girls looking you up and down the minute you walked in, no people furiously punching away at their blackberries while snapping on gum, no cheesy guys in open shirts and bluetooth headsets. It was just comfortable and mellow – my kind of place.
This was the bar upstairs. We were lucky to nab three seats. Places in NY are TINY, and The Spotted Pig was no exception.
The Salty Pig, which was really a Greyhound in a salt-rimmed glass
Cheers to me and Jenn!
The menu for the night
Downstairs, we got a relaxing banquette table by the door. We immediately placed our orders – I chose their signature dish, the gnudi (which are these homemade out-of-this-world gnocchi type balls covered in semolina and wrapped around succulent ricotta cheese then dropped into some unbelievable sage butter sauce) – good lord. I was in food heaven.
Both Jenn and Nicole got the burgers because that’s what they are known for. Look at those fries. Aren’t they purdy?
We joined the Clean Plate Club that night
After the main course, we ordered coffee and a delectable dessert. But we cleaned that off, too, before I got a chance to take a pic. Oh well.
Outside in the freeeeezing cold, we took pictures to “capture the moment” for blogging times like this – awww
I did not go to Whole Foods for dinner last night. I went to Chipotle.
Whole Foods! Why? Coz I can make my OWN taco salad and choose from a kajillion billion trillion different types of ready-made foods. I’m lucky enough that Chris lives between the mucho giant one in El Segundo and the other Costco-sized Whole Foods in Venice, CA which has a prepared foods section the size of Canada. I win.
I am completely head over heels for Max Brenner and his chocolate paradise! SOOOO bummed that I just learned about this place after coming back from NYC! WAHHH. But at least I have the internet, where I can order not only his cacao bean shaped mugs (too cute for school!), but also nab his sweet chocolate mixes and more. Pics below are from sweetcherriepie.blogspot.com as I didn’t have the joy of taking some myself boohoo.
Pic below from fashionweekdaily.com – look at how thick that chocolate is!
TACO SALAD!! The unhealthy kind, full of sour cream, guacamole and cheeeeese!
Words cannot express how much bliss I was in upon tasting the famous artichoke dip from Freemans in NYC. Full of fatty mayo, parmesan and garlic, this was THE BEST artichoke dip I have EVERRRRR tasted. It came with a side of freshly toasted baguette slices and between sips of my cocktail and bites of the dip, I was in foodie heaven. I could eat this all day everyday. Lucky for me, my lovely coworker, Nicole, got her hands on the recipe and is going to re-create the dip at a “Pastries & Bacon” party we’re planning on.
This picture was taken about halfway through our hectic work week. Imagine 24 appointments packed into 4 days… running across town in NY, hopping from one subway to the next in heels. I’ll tell you one thing…I have developed awesome leg muscles from all that walking. JK. Anyway, below is me at this sushi place trying my best to look bright, happy and awake. You can tell from my frazzled hair and forced smile that I’m pretty exhausted. I had fun playing with the chopsticks at the table, though. Still a kid at heart.
Gin + tonics were my drink of choice when I was in NY. Great ones at The Hudson Hotel.
No, unfortunately, not me – another Melissa. I’m absolutely OBSESSED with this site right now after passing by its tiny storefront in SoHo, NY. She makes these adorable miniature cupcakes that are the size of a quarter. Bite-sized heaven! Just what I love. Check it out at www.bakedbymelissa.com! The picture below is from her site….delicious.
It’s now official. You can just enter “www.pastriesandbacon.com” to get to this blog Thanks to my awesome boyfriend.