Tag Archives: Learn to Cook

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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let’s eat!

27 Jan

This post is dedicated to my love of eating out & my slight interest in cooking at home. Hey, at least I don’t hate being in the kitchen anymore.

LA EATS! 

During the week I am pretty dedicated to eating clean. I mostly eat protein & veggies at every meal (so boring I know but it comes with the territory of working as a fit model). But on the weekends I let myself go a bit (all about balance, right?) This past saturday that involved eating lunch with Brian at our local pizza joint, Pitfire Artisan Pizza, where we shared their chopped salad with pepperoni and salami & the sausage party pizza (fennel sausage / salumi & bacon 
 tomato sauce / fresh mozzarella / saba)- a glass of chardonnay for me and a beer for Brian. Can you say meat fest? OY. It was so yummy though and they have a beautiful outdoor patio to eat in. It didn’t hurt that it was also 80 degrees in LA this weekend,  making the patio the perfect choice for a late lunch.

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LET’S EAT AT HOME!

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve tried out a few new recipes at home- my top favorite being a halibut dish that I cooked in parchment paper. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this parchment situation sooner?? Hands down one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever tackled. You basically dump a bunch of fresh ingredients on the piece of parchment paper, wrap it up (kinda like a little present) and stick it in the oven where it steams itself- and VIOLA! you have dinner in 15 minutes. I picked halibut because salmon is pretty much the only fish I work with at home, so I thought I’d totally break all my kitchen rules and not only work with parchment paper but also with halibut. Breaking barriers people!

Artichoke-Tomato Halibut en Papillote (aka artichoke- tomato halibut in parchment paper)

Ingredients
2 (4 ounce) halibut fillets, boneless
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 lemon slices, ¼-inch thick
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts packed in water, rinsed and drained
12 grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place one piece of halibut on a 12×12 inch piece of parchment paper. Drizzle each side of fish with 2 teaspoons olive oil and top with 2 lemon slices. Arrange half of the artichokes, tomatoes, and basil on top of fish. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Repeat the process for the second piece of halibut.
Fold up parchment paper like a package, sealing in the ingredients. With the seam at the top, tuck the ends underneath. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until fish is cooked through, about 15 minutes for a 1-inch thick piece of fish. Add 15 minutes of baking time for each additional inch of thickness.
Transfer to a plate and carefully open the package to release the steam before serving

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weekend

12 Jan

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This weekend was one of the most relaxing weekends I can remember in a long time. We pretty much did a whole lot of nothing for two days straight. The fact that it was grey and rainy in LA most of the weekend definitely helped. We stayed in Friday night with take-out food and watched the last few episodes of our new favorite show on Netflix “Marco Polo”. Have you seen it? It’s soooo good. This coming from a girl who isn’t normally a fan of historical television shows. We watched the entire first season in a few days- it’s safe to say that we are addicted.

Saturday we made an attempt to get out of the house and took a drive down to El Segundo to hit up a warehouse sale that Restoration Hardware was having. We are on a hunt for new lighting fixtures as well as counter stools for our kitchen island. Sadly, the sale was a total bust. They mostly had leather couches and canopy beds for sale- neither of which we are in need of. When we got home from our El Segundo adventure it was decided that we wouldn’t be leaving the house again, other than to pick up Thai food for dinner. We spent the afternoon doing stuff around the house…Brian researched how to build a desk for our office (a project that he will hopefully complete next weekend!) while I organized our kitchen cabinets and laundry room. I’m on a serious organizing kick at the moment. Maybe it’s because I’ve cut out sugar, gluten and alcohol for the month of January and need a distraction but I am an unstoppable organizing machine at the moment. Need anything organized at your house??? I’m available.

On Sunday we kept the weekend nesting theme going and spent the whole day in again. Well, other than a trip to the market to grab a few things I needed to tackle a chicken recipe for dinner that evening.  I decided it would be nice to cook dinner for Brian since I would be forcing him to sit through five hours of Golden Globe coverage.

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a friendly golden globe bet... I won.

a friendly golden globe bet… I won.

Every time I make him sit through an award show I think of the first time I made him watch the Golden Globes with me and recorded some of the things he said…

“Oh look it’s Brad and Angie! Yay!” said with total disdain

“If Ryan Gosling didn’t open his mouth I think I would like him much better”

“she’s hot”

“That’s a really stupid headband” said about Michelle William’s headband

“How many other boyfriends and husbands do you think there are in the world that are being forced to watch the Golden Globes? Id love to know the number- I bet it’s big”

“Did you finish your cookie?”

“Stupid show”

“That’s a horrible dress”

“Don’t worry I’ll take a nap in a few minutes and stop talking”

Me…”Really?”

Brian…”No”

“Like Steven Spielberg needed another award”

“He looks tan!”

“That’s her husband?!”

As he grabs the controller from me he says “If we have to watch this then it should at least be on HD”

“We are watching the A team at 8 o’clock”

me….”I didn’t know you wanted to see that”

Brian…”I don’t really…I just know you don’t want to see it”

Keeping with tradition I jotted down a few things Brian could be heard muttering during this years Golden Globe awards…

“She looks super pretty!” – regarding Naomi Watts

“Wait! They’re married????” – regarding Naomi Watts & Liev Schreiber

“Yes and they have two kids.” – me

“I bet they have really attractive kids” said Brian thoughtfully

“Like he needed another way to make money.” – said with disgust in response to Ryan Seacrest wearing a suit made by his own fashion label

“He’s aged quite well.” – regarding Ethan Hawke

“My crush looks terrible.” said with shock in regards to Kate Mara

“I have no idea who he is.” – while shaking his head

“I mean, how can you not love her, right?” – regarding Emily Blunt

“You’re a woman without chardonnay, sugar or carbs…trust me I won’t take watching the Golden Globes away from you.” – said to me

“Jude law cheated on her???”

no words…just whistling…upon seeing Kate Hudson

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my husband, the pickle man

1 Oct

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I’ve always said that Brian would make a better housewife (man) than I would. Seriously, he’s just better at it most home related things then I am. If he is left alone at our house for the day you can pretty much guarantee you’re coming home to a few loads of laundry done (and folded meticulously. Although he never manages to put any of it away? ), our garden pruned and watered (as well as all the bounty he picked in a big bowl on the kitchen island), Frank walked and bathed & the house straightened.

He’s kinda the perfect husband.

He also happens to be really good in kitchen. He can confidently follow any recipe as well as free style it with random ingredients in the fridge. But he really shines once a year when he pickles. He takes pickling pretty seriously. It all begins in March when he dutifully goes to our local Home Depot and buys a few special pickling cucumber seedlings and then spends many months nurturing them in preparation for his big pickling day in early September.

Sadly, I missed shooting the big day because I was out. He gave me no notice!! I happened to call him to check in and he said he couldn’t talk because he was busy pickling his cucumbers…oh and green beans & okra. Both new additions to his process.

Sure enough when I got home there were eight jars of goodness lined up in our fridge. I was so excited to try them that I quickly reached into one of the jars without thinking. I was reminded by the “pickle man” that I had to wait a week for the magic to happen.

Clearly, I am not a pickler nor am I known for my patience.

A few days ago it was finally time to try the pickles and let me tell you they were SO good. Although, I am warning you now that he calls his recipe “Brian’s Atomic Pickle Recipe”. They are spicy as shit! We love them but I realize not everyone has a death wish so if you do indeed use his recipe, feel free to tone it down.

ps...Brian was very reluctant to share “his” special atomic pickle recipe. HA. He made me agree last night that if he gave me the recipe I would promise to ask readers to share any pickle recipes they might have. He’s clearly trying to start a pickling movement and community!! So, if any of you have one…please share! Although, he also wanted me to make it very clear that he does not like sweet pickle recipes. So, there you have it folks.

(photo taken last year on pickling day when I was actually present)

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Brians Atomic Pickle Recipe

Ingredients

8 cloves garlic peeled
1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh dill still on the stem
8 cups water
3/4 cups cider vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 to 1/3 cup kosher salt
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon peppercorns
2 pounds pickling cucumbers, quartered or sliced in rounds
Hot peppers to taste (I use 4 halved cayenne peppers per jar)
Instructions

Combine the water, vinegar, salt, mustard seed, and dried dill in a large pot and bring to a boil and cook until the salt dissolves.
Meanwhile, place peeled garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, peppercorn and 1/2 of the dill on the bottom of a 1 gallon jar or two 1/2 gallon jars (divide ingredients evenly if using 2 jars). Pack cucumbers in jar(s) and put remaining dill on top.
Pour the brine over the cucumbers and cover the jar(s). Let the jars sit on your counter, but not in direct sunlight until cooled, about an hour, and then put them in the fridge. The cucumbers will have begun pickling after 24 hours, but wait a full week if you want them to be fully pickled.

 

around these parts…

16 Jan

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the above picture has nothing to do with this post- I was just compelled to share the cuteness with you all.

I could not be happier that the weekend is almost here. It’s been a bit of a blah week for me. Not for any specific reason..my head space has just been BLAH. I think I might finally be coming down from the high of the wedding. I didn’t really have a chance to mourn that it was over because we went straight into the excitement of the holidays. It was a joyful few months and I don’t think I was prepared for it all to end. I’m not saying that life can’t be joyful after the wedding…I’m just saying I’m a little sad it’s over.

Despite my blah mood, I was able to make some progress with a few of my goals this week.

I worked on a travel essay about our trip to Nepal, which I plan on submitting as soon as I finish it (hopefully this weekend).

Brian and I finally settled on our honeymoon destinations- Bali and Vietnam here we come. I just LOVE having a trip to look forward to.

I have my very first date with my little sister, Briana set up for this Sunday. I still have no idea what to do with her…must come up with something…soon.

We’ve also made a lot of progress with our home this week- we picked paint colors, met with a furniture builder and found two killer pieces at the rose bowl flea market this last weekend- a fabulous new turkish rug and mirror for the entryway. The mirror is currently white but I plan to paint it coral this weekend!

Other than the thrilling activity of painting the mirror coral this weekend…I plan to do a bit of cooking (paleo cauliflower soup), reading (finding your own north star), writing (travel essay), organizing (the clutter that has developed in our cabinets is crazy…I was almost killed by a falling juicer the other day) and taking a few walks on the beach with my pup and husband.

Hoping that I will have a little more umpf next week!

On another note…did you see the new header on the blog?! I love it. I just die over Frank’s regal pose. Thank you, One Part Gypsy for creating such a fabulous header for me.

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let’s eat!

7 Jan

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On Brian’s vision board this year he had the words “let’s eat!” next to a picture of a shirtless Kelly Slater and the words “get back in shape”. I found this all very confusing at first. Did they correlate in some way? Did he not realize the mixed messages he was giving the Universe? I thought I taught this boy how to vision board! When I asked Brian what it meant he explained that the “let’s eat!” symbolized wanting to get back in the kitchen with me. Well, then…how very sweet. He was right though…we used to do a decent amount of cooking together. Not every night but at least once a week we would pick a new recipe and it would always end up being quality “us” time. We’d break open a bottle of wine and talk, laugh and cook. We’ve kinda fallen in the bad habit of cooking totally boring meals during the week and on the weekends either going out or ordering in. He was right we had to get back into the kitchen together!

This Sunday was our first night back. Well, actually it started in the afternoon. We had to marinate, people! We chose a recipe we found in Sunset Magazine called “Grilled Cilantro Chicken with Pickled Tomato and Avocado Salsa”. We agreed upon it because I liked that it had the word “avocado” in the title and Brian liked it because of all the spicy ingredients. I swear, that boy likes to sweat when he eats. We spent the afternoon listening to the “Into The Wild” soundtrack, while the warm breeze swept through our house (seriously..is it really january?) and cooked. It was perfect. Sadly, there was no wine involved because I’m on a no “sugar, booze or gluten” kick but it was still heaven.

The dish turned out very spicy (surprise…surprise) but it was seriously good. Here’s the recipe. 

We’ve agreed to *try* and cook together every Sunday night. Knowing that life will probably get in the way some weekends but at least we are going to carve out some quality time in the kitchen together.

Find me elsewhere: instagram @kate365, twitter, facebook

313

21 Jan

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With our move a few days away, I find myself excited to get into our new space and sad to leave our little apartment at 313. It’s a pretty sweet little guy- it’s always flooded with light, has worn wooden floors, is three blocks from the beach and across the street from a big green park. It’s been pretty good to us these last few years. So much of our history has happened in its walls. It’s where Brian and I had our first awkward date. Have I ever told you how awkward Brian was in the beginning? I spent the first few weeks wondering if he even liked me. He always says he’s happy I stuck with him during that time. I saw potential! It’s where Brian first told me he loved me as we stood in the shower soaping our hair. It’s where we had our first and only big fight when getting ready for bed and I stormed out dramatically in the middle of the night to go back to my place. Then I got home and thought…maybe that was a bit much? It’s where we’d stay up late on the couch, listening to music, playing gin rummy and drinking booze, the game getting more heated and pathetic as the evening went on. It’s where we decided to take the next step in our relationship and move in with each other. A few weeks later, I nervously and excitedly unpacked my clothes, making 313 my new permanent home. It’s where Brian came home one night as I was cooking dinner and said, “I got the promotion at work“- we dropped everything and went out for steaks and martinis to celebrate. It’s where I woke up at 4:30 am and packed the car en route for the Buddhist monastery in search of answers and adventure. It’s where I accidentally dropped Brian’s toothbrush in the toilet and tried to cover it up quickly. When he caught me, we laughed so hard we cried on the bathroom floor. It’s where we cried from sadness on the couch after Brian’s grandmother’s funeral; the first terrible loss together as a couple. It’s where I learned how to cook. It’s where I got a call that a project of mine got fabulous feedback and we popped a bottle of champagne and celebrated on a school night. It’s where Brian worked endless hours to put together his first photography show– spread out on the floor framing each piece perfectly. It’s where I battled my anxiety issues and won (hopefully). It’s where I turned thirty. It’s where we celebrated our first Christmas together. It’s where Brian put a ring on my finger and told me that nothing would make him happier than if I became his wife- we cried on the floor after hugging and laughing. It’s where I’ve sat up countless nights writing at my computer. It’s where we sat in bed one night and excitedly hit “buy” on a ten day trek in Nepal; then looked at each other and said “what did we just do?” It’s where our story as a couple began. It’s the place we will drive by with our kids one day and say that’s where mommy and daddy fell in love.

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