Tag Archives: Cooking

baking project – apple cake

19 Jan

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( my sous chef )

As I mentioned in a previous post I thought maybe I would try my hand at baking with all this free time I have until the babe arrives in May. I figure I taught myself to cook (although, I still wouldn’t considering myself a master chef but at least I’m not afraid of the kitchen anymore) a few years ago when I started this blog, I may as well teach myself to bake too. As a working fit model I kept my consumption of baked goods to a minimum but as a pregnant lady I’m pretty open to them! So what better time to become a baker, right? This past weekend Brian was out-of-town for a bachelor party…in Hawaii. I know, I know…I felt terribly bad for him as well. Poor, dear. So with the house to myself and nothing but grey skies on Sunday morning I decided to tackle a recipe. I had plenty of recipes to choose from via my pinterest account. I seem to have an addiction to pinning sweet treats. I settled on an apple cake recipe because it seemed easy enough for my first attempt. I turned on a movie, The Time Travelers Wife,  to keep me company.  Have you ever seen it? Not sure if it was my raging hormones but I sobbed through most  of it. Such a sweet movie about love. I devoured the book when I read it many years ago and I think they did a beautiful job translating it to the screen. Anyway, back to the apple cake…

It was a very easy recipe- I didn’t get overwhelmed and freak out once while making it (that’s the true test) and it turned out quite good! It was a nice mix of cinnamon and apple flavors and it was incredibly moist- especially tasty with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  The only problem is my crust ended up a tad burnt. Maybe I didn’t grease the pan enough? Any ideas? Because the rest of it was cooked perfectly so I’m not sure what I should have done differently?

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the bump snuck into a photo

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Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced
powdered sugar, to dust

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12 x 9-inch baking pan and set aside.
-Melt the butter in the microwave and combine with the sugar. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one. Add vanilla.
-In a mixing bowl, combine together flour, baking powder, and cinnamon. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix until combined and smooth. The batter will be very thick, but that’s ok.
-Pour half of the batter into the prepared baking pan. Using a palette knife, spread to make an even surface and place apples in a single layer over the top. Gently press them into the batter. Spread the remaining batter over the top and carefully lever the surface. Scatter the rest of the apple slices over the batter and press them lightly into the surface.
-Bake for about 45–55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

fusilli alla vodka

26 Oct

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I’m a pasta girl. If it was appropriate to eat pasta for every meal I would happily oblige. In addition to enjoying the art of eating pasta I also enjoy preparing it. They are so easy to throw together and you can pretty much add any ingredient to them and it works…meat, veggies, spice, dairy, seafood…anything! Last night we had Brian’s parents over for dinner and we decided to make our new favorite pasta dish…spicy fusilli alla vodka. We first made this dish a few weeks ago when we had our friends Rachel & Pj (and their new baby Ben!) over for dinner. It was a big hit that night so we decided to give it another go, this time we upped the spice factor. Brian likes to sweat when he eats food. While I enjoy spicy, he takes it to another level. I gotta keep my eye on him when he’s adding the spices to our meals.

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I found the recipe on Bon Appetite’s website (they pulled it from the Italian restaurant Jon & Vinny’s in Los Angeles. I’ve been dying to try this place so we made reservations for our wedding anniversary in November. I plan to eat lots of pasta that night) The dish is incredibly easy to make, we usually make the sauce before our guests arrive and then reheat it once we are ready to eat.

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Frank is absolutely no help unless food makes it onto the floor and needs to be cleaned up. Otherwise he sleeps nearby with his beloved tennis ball.

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Voila! Dinner is ready- we served the pasta with an Italian salad & fresh bread.

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ingredients-
servings: 4
¼ cup olive oil
½ shallot, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
½ cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons vodka
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 pound fusilli
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

directions-

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until paste is brick-red and starts to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Add vodka and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add cream and red pepper flakes and stir until well blended. Season with salt and pepper; remove from heat.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Add pasta to skillet with sauce along with butter and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and adding more pasta cooking liquid if needed, until butter has melted and a thick, glossy sauce has formed, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add 1 oz. Parmesan, tossing to coat. Divide pasta among bowls, then top with basil and more Parmesan.

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Sunday night dinner

29 Sep

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As I mentioned in a previous post I want to get back into kitchen this fall. We fell into a bad habit this summer of eating out or every single night. Seriously…every single night. We had four restaurants in our neighborhood on rotation…Thai, Mexican, Greek & Italian. I knew it had gone too far when the lovely lady who works at the Thai restaurant down the street knew my name and order without any direction- I guess it’s my fault for ordering spicy eggplant with chicken every single time.

Originally I wanted to make a savory fall recipe in the slow cooker this Sunday but the weather in Los Angeles has been SO hot (over it) and it just didn’t seem fitting. I would’ve had to draw all the curtains and blast the AC to make it feel cozy and fall like in our place.  So I switched gears and settled on a lighter chicken dish instead- roasted chicken with potatoes, arugula and garlic yogurt.

I forgot how much I love cooking on a lazy Sunday. The light is always so pretty that time of day in our home. We put on music…Brian cracks a cold beer and chats with me as I chop (he’s also kind enough to document the cooking session for my blog- thanks love!)…Frank plays with his toys by my feet.

It’s one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon.

The dish was an absolute success- such an interesting mix of flavors with the sriracha, cumin & garlic yogurt!

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Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Arugula and Garlic Yogurt. 

ingredients-

1 1/2 pounds chicken things and drumsticks

1 1/4 pounds of small Yukon gold potatoes, halved and cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

2 tablespoons of sriracha

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

4 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 leeks, white and green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1/3 cup of plain yogurt (do not use greek)

1 garlic clove

2 ounces of baby arugula

chopped fresh dill

lemon juice

directions-

  • combine chicken and potatoes in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together sriracha, cumin and 3 tablespoons of oil. Pour over chicken and potatoes and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
  • meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine leeks, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil.
  • heat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange chicken and potatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Roast 15 minutes. Toss potatoes lightly. Scatter leeks over pan. Roast until chicken and potatoes are cooked through and everything is golden, 30 minutes longer,
  • While chicken cooks, place yogurt in a small bowl. Grate garlic over yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve, spoon yogurt over chicken and vegetables. Scatter arugula and dill over mixture. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice and serve.

celebrating my momma’s bday…

28 Sep

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My momma’s birthday always feels like the kick-off for the upcoming celebratory season. Her birthday, September 24th falls the day after the first day of fall- my absolute favorite time of year. Even though it’s usually still unbearably hot in Los Angeles on her birthday I am in full fall mode.

Her lovely friends Mary & Francesca hosted a casual dinner for fourteen of us to celebrate her birthday. I am a fan of celebrating my mom because she is hands down one of my favorite people to walk the earth. She’s full of so much joy, love and laughter. She’s the kind of person you want to be stuck in a room with for hours. She’s just fun.

We feasted on a Moroccan chicken dish, roasted veggies, an arugula salad & a fruit salad while sitting outside in the garden. After dinner we moved into the living room to eat dessert (the most delectable bread pudding I have ever tasted) while watching her open gifts.

It was the kind of evening that left me heart feeling full.

Happy Birthday to my beautiful Momma.

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happy list

13 Jul

happy post

(image found via pinterest)

things that made me happy this weekend…

The Girl On The Train. I literally did not put it down all weekend. I even woke up at 3am on Sunday morning and found myself strapping on a camping headlamp to continue reading it quietly in the dark as Brian slept next to me. To say I was obsessed is an understatement.

Dinner at Lukshon with my in-laws to celebrate my birthday. Hands down the best meal I have had in ages. Every dish was filled with such an intoxicating mix of flavors. I’m still dreaming about the lobster roll “banh mi”

That Frank didn’t drown in a koi pond this weekend. We were visiting our old neighbor at his new pad and enjoying some time in his garden when I heard a loud splash. It sounded like a bowling ball had rolled into the water. I immediately knew it was Frankie. I ran over to the pond just in time to see Frank pop up from under the water with his eyes as big as saucers. Poor little guy looked terrified. Luckily Brian was nearby and quickly yanked him out. PHEW. I’m not sure Frank will ever explore bodies of water again.

Masters Of Sex. Such a smart & sexy show.

A Sunday night pasta dinner made with love by my husband. He was so excited to use the cherry tomatoes from his garden in a recipe.

A cheerful bouquet of orange tulips my girlfriend Taline sent me for my birthday.

Long summer days & sunsets at 8pm

The project 30 Q&A that I will be posting tomorrow. It’s such a great read

Allowing myself to take it slow

This incredibly inspiring TED talk by our friend Adi Jaffe. It’s a very interesting fifteen minutes if you have the time! FUCK SHAME!

 

july 4th weekend

6 Jul

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July 4th weekend did not disappoint this year. I spent most of it at the beach and eating tasty food- both favorite pastimes of mine. I started the weekend off right by taking Frankie for a three-mile walk Friday morning. We start every day with a long walk actually- it’s our thing. I’ve become rather attached to the routine of it. It throws my whole day off if I can’t make it work for some reason! We explore different streets, houses and alleys each day. Frank is a pup who appreciates a new tree to pee on and I am more than happy to comply. After our walk I met a girlfriend for a juice date at Kreation. I opted not to get a healthy green juice and instead ordered a chailicious smoothie. It was to die for- like sipping dessert through a straw. Then I met my mom and my brother for lunch at Back On The Beach to celebrate my birthday a few days early with them. The food isn’t mind-blowing but the restaurant overlooks the ocean and your table is literally on the sand so it makes up for it. After lunch my mom and I headed down to the water for a few hours (we couldn’t convince Nik to join us though). It was a cloudy afternoon so instead of sunbathing and swimming like we had planned we spent most of the time lying on a blanket fully clothed chatting. When I got home Brian made us dinner on the grill- cilantro lime chicken, zucchini and sweet potatoes.

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back on the beach

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Nik looking dapper in my moms hat and my sunglasses

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we worked hard to get this selfie

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I know I’m biased but he’s the cutest griller I ever did see

On Saturday, after sleeping in and drinking copious amounts of coffee in bed, we packed up the car and headed to the beach to meet some friends. It was packed with happy people as far as the eye could see celebrating the holiday. Luckily, the sun was actually out this time and I proceeded to spend the next few hours working on my tan, reading magazines and swimming in the sea. I haven’t swam in the ocean since we were in Bali for our honeymoon over a year ago. I almost forgot how invigorating the salty water can be. After the beach we debated going to a party with our friends but decided a quiet night at home was more our speed. We are getting old, huh?!? So we (Brian) grilled yet again and had a picnic on our coffee table so we could watch a movie (we watched The Judge – meh) while eating dinner. Around 9pm (with ten minutes left to spare in the movie of course) the loud pops began so we grabbed Frank (who was totally freaked out by the commotion) and headed up to the roof to take in the firework show across the city.

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clearly, not impressed with July 4th

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July 4th at Santa Monica beach

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lunch at the beach

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our picnic dinner

On Sunday we spent most of the day doing things around the house. There is nothing that brings me more joy than organizing my home. I know…I really am getting old. In the evening we hosted my Dad and Pamela for dinner to celebrate Pamela’s birthday. That’s another thing that brings me great joy…hosting dinner parties. Especially to celebrate ones I love. Brian and I made salmon, corn on the cob (with cilantro lime butter- with a pinch of lemon zest) and potato salad. I also baked a vanilla cake with fresh strawberries on top for dessert.

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chubby paws

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very busy at work making potato salad

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ever hopeful that something might drop…

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Happy Birthday Pamela!! (please excuse the weird face I am making)

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mi familia

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love

the end.

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
Omar Khayyam

 

saturday night dinner party

15 Jun

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On Saturday night Brian and I had my best girlfriend Taline and her 11 month old son Liam over for dinner. The last time we had Liam over he was a teeny tiny little babe. He didn’t do much other than look cute. Cut to now…he’s a super mobile (he gave Frank a run for his money), giggly & fun little guy. Having him at the dinner table like one of the adults cracked me up. When planning the menu for the evening I tried to accommodate everyone. I’m new at cooking for a baby thing- what can they eat at 11 months??? I settled on a pasta dish & a peach crisp for dessert ( I figured both could be modified for Liam to eat). Definitely not the healthiest of dinners (helllllo carbs!) but it’s all fun and games until your jeans don’t fit, right?

Of course Brian helped me put the meal together. I swear no matter what I do he will always be a better cook than me. It’s ok I guess…I think I might like baking better anyway. I’ll let him be the cook in the family and I’ll handle the desserts. I mean who doesn’t want to be in charge of the desserts, right? I’ve been wanting to make a crisp/crumble type thing for a while now. They always look so damn good to me when I scroll through pinterest. I’ve also been wanting to make something with peaches because nothing says summer to me like a dessert with peaches.

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I couldn’t help but laugh at the last picture. Dinner parties sure do look different in your thirties! In the best possible way too. As I looked around the table my heart-felt incredibly full.

Below you will find the two recipes…

spaghetti all’ amatriciana 

* ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces pancetta (thick cut), diced
1 small white onion, finely diced
3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes*
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
3/4 ounce parmigiano-reggiano cheese, finely grated (plus more for serving)
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb dried spaghetti pasta
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

* directions

-Heat the olive oil in a large (straight-sided, preferably) skillet over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the fat has rendered into the pan and the pancetta is crispy and caramelized slightly. Using a slotted spoon, remove the crispy pancetta and place in a separate small bowl, leaving any fat behind in the pan.
-Over medium-low heat, add the diced onion and saute in the rendered fat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and lightly caramelized. Add the garlic and continue to saute for an addition 2 to 3 minutes, being careful to avoid burning the garlic or onion. Deglaze the pan with a tablespoon of water, if necessary, to remove any bits of crispy pancetta or bits from the bottom of the pan.
-Add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat for an addition 1 to 2 minutes, or until the paste has thickened slightly.
-Add the pancetta, and any extra rendered fat, back into the skillet, along with the crushed tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a low simmer, and cook, stirring every few minutes, for 15 to 20 minutes. The sauce should be relatively thick. Add the grated cheese to the sauce, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place over low heat while you cook the pasta.
-Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water in a measuring cup, and then drain the pasta. Return the drained pasta back into the pot, toss with a tablespoon of unsalted butter, and add the sauce, thinning with pasta cooking water as necessary until the pasta is evenly coated. Serve pasta with extra grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese on the side.

pasta

peach crisp with gingersnap crumble topping 

* ingredients

Filling
6 cups sliced peaches (peeled and sliced into ½ inch pieces)
¾ cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar (packed)
16 gingersnap cookies ((or 4 oz); crushed)
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup butter (melted)

* directions

-Pre heat oven to 375 F.
-Mix peaches, ¾ cup sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch in a 9 X 9 inch pan.
-In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugars, crushed gingersnaps, ginger, and melted butter. Spread evenly over peach filling.
-Bake for 40-50 minutes, until topping is golden and filling bubbles. You may need to cover with foil at around 30 minutes to prevent topping from overcooking.

peach crisp

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