Category: Uncategorized

Chicken Milanese with Cherry Tomato, Fennel Sauce

I think it’t pretty obvious that I love cooking.  I love thinking of a perfect recipe for that perfect dinner/lunch/picnic/party or whatever it may be.   I also love cookbooks, it is only recently that I came to the realization that I should limit my cookbook purchases and actually use the ones I have more.  It seems to work as a cycle, I get a new cooking light magazine and its all i want to cook from for a couple weeks, then I notice a cookbook that I haven’t used in a while and thats all I can think of for the next couple week…you get my drift. (aka I have like 50 cooking lights that I do not want to toss because I am so certain there is a recipe is one of them I will want to make).

Well, two summers ago a friend and I went to a cookbook signing at Williams Sonoma in Santa Barbara of Giada De Laurentiis’s new cookbook and it was so much fun.  The one minute we got to chat with her was just life changing…ok no, but it was a lot of fun (minus the fact that she spelled my name wrong…even though it was written perfectly on a post it for her to copy over).  Recently that lovely cookbook jumped out to me on the shelf and I ran across this recipe that I have made before and loved it!  The last time I made it was my first encounter with fennel and it was a pleasant interaction I have to say.  Fresh fennel itself smells a little like licorice, and when cooked a lot of that pungent smell goes away and it has a similar consistency to a cooked onion.  The fennel frond is also really nice to fresh salads.

For the sake of simplicity HERE is a link to the recipe (as opposed to copying it from my cookbook). ENJOY!

{Fresh fennel, cut off the branch looking fronds and continue slicing down to the base}

{Slice fennel bulb like you would an onion}

{Tomatoes and fennel simma’-ing}

{The finished plate}


The Essence of Fall

First let me forwarn anyone who reads this that I have about 5 posts of different meals I have made that will shortly follow this post.  Alright now to the important things, the season of fall.  For the longest time, when anyone would ask me “what’s your favorite season of the year?” (you know, one of those weird questions similar to those along the lines of “are you an ocean person or a river person?” …) anyway, I would always answer the season question by saying fall.  But really the only justification for that answer was that my birthday is in October so naturally I enjoy that time of year.  But having graduated college and now living in southern california, I now more than ever stand behind that response. And it is not because my birthday is in the season of fall, I truly enjoy everything about fall and sadly, southern california lacks a lot of the beauty of fall.  From the slowly changing colors of trees…like this one

which is not located in southern California, to the sweet smell of apple cider on the stove with the magic of mulling spices, I love bundling up in a warm blanket and sitting by the fireplace (that does not exist in my apartment) fall is by far my favorite.

Halloween always kicks off the feel of fall for me, I love going and getting pumpkins and carving them the couple days before halloween and then roasting the pumpkin seeds that night.  Soon after halloween ends I find myself itching for thanksgiving, and as you may be able to guess, thanksgiving is always so much fun for me because I get to cook a huge meal for family members while my mom helps out and also decorates the table with my sister.  I have to admit that I have already pulled the october/november issues of my cooking light magazine as well as various cookbooks and put them next to my bed in order to gather inspiration for the wonderful thanksgiving meal.  Following thanksgiving is the long haul towards christmas where technically I guess fall is over but for me, the love of fall merely turns into a love of the holidays at that point and I really mash them together in my head.  And as an avid lover of cooking, crafting, and organization I love planning what I will get/make for everyone for christmas (I have a bookmarked list currently going on  So that Is my rundown on why I love this time of year and because this would not be a good entry without some pictures here is how we kicked off the season. 🙂

{Mine was the spider}

{Chili powder roasted pumpkin seeds}

{Pumpkin pie with a lighter crust — but you can use pre-made if it’s easier}

Simplicity– Homemade Greek Yogurt

Ok, no I did not make homemade greek yogurt from scratch.  But I did discover a very easy way to make it from nonfat plain yogurt! When I first read that this was the technique to make greek yogurt I was shocked, and then remedied the dissonance by convincing myself that actually doing it would be harder than it seems.  Little did I know 24 hours after I read that, I would have greek yogurt out of simple plain yogurt.  Now, when I first had greek yogurt I really did not like it.  The idea that I would be eating something so thick just didn’t sit well.  So for a long time after that I stuck to my regular yogurt.  Until one day, for some reason greek yogurt was exactly what I wanted, and from then on its been greek yogurt.  There isn’t much of a recipe to this post, more of a technique, but I will describe it here.

  1. Find a large bowl that a pasta strainer can sit on top of while also leaving space in the bottom of the bowl to catch the liquid.
  2. Line the pasta strainer with heavy duty paper towels (or cheesecloth if you have one…I do not)
  3. Pour the contents of the plain yogurt on top of the paper towels in the strainer
  4. Place the bowl with the strainer on top in the fridge, let sit for at least 24 hours
  5. What remains above the paper towels is your greek yogurt! Make sure to save the plain yogurt container to put the greek yogurt back in.


4th of July Celebratory Feast

I got a chance to go home this 4th of July and not only got to see my pup and my family, but got a chance to make an elaborate meal for the whole family (including high school friends) which I always look forward to.  My mom and I make a deadly duo when it comes to celebratory feasts.  We both love the cooking part but I’m the one that usually pushes her to try unfamiliar recipes while she loves the entertaining aspect.  Now, up north the summer heat (often in triple digets) is unbearable unless paired with a swimming pool and layers of sunscreen reapplied every 10 minutes.  So this 4th we had some friends over to swim, have some drinks and of course, to eat.  I didn’t take pictures of the process of making each part of this meal but I will link the sites where I found most of the ideas.  To save time, we didn’t make our own flatbread but everything else turned out perfect.

{Tomato Gazpacho with Cucumber Garnish)

{Quinoa Salad with Red Pepper, Feta, and Green Onion with Lemon Olive Oil Vinaigrette}

{Grilled Chicken Marinated in Lemon and Fresh Basil}

{Sundried Tomato Tapenade -left- White Bean Garlic Puree -right}

{The finished plate– pictured on grilled whole wheat flatbread}
{Homemade Ice Cream Cake with Buttercream Frosting with fresh fruit mixed in}

I’m Back! — BBQ Flatbread Margherita Pizza

Alright, I know I know, it has been forever since I have posted a new recipe.  I am admittedly way behind in posting but have still been photographing away and have a whole bunch of recipes and meals to post about.  This past quarter brought about a lot of new mindsets and realizations with finishing my last quarter of college, taking classes and having two jobs, and then facing the facts of graduation and moving out.  Somewhere along the way I got behind in posting and everyone knows what it is like to be behind in something, it takes a second, only a second, to get behind yet it takes 2 weeks to get back to where you were or should be.  Anyway, that is my halfhearted attempt to rationalize waiting so long to post a new entry.  Now on to the goods.

So I don’t know how many people are familiar with but it is beyond addicting! For those who have a wrinkle in their forehead after reading that and have no idea what it is here is a brief description.  You create an account on stumbleupon and there are myriad categories you can select of interests, for example I chose cooking as an interest (big surprise I know), and then you click a button to “stumble” and it takes you to a random website in the endless space of the internet that has something to do with your interests.  In the end you spend hours just “stumbling” different sites.  So by stumbling I kept coming across food blogs that were quite inspiring and I have now become that girl who’s top bookmarks that are most accessable are food blogs.  No shame, I look forward to looking at them every day to see any new posts or if I need a recipe idea for a party I go straight to those blogs.  (I quite recommend it actually, if you ever need a quick recipe for something)

Ok, so now that we have cleared up my obsession with stumbleupon, the reason I bring it up is because I found this recipe on one of them, “Handle the Heat.”  It is listed as Grilled Pizza Margherita and immediately had me drooling, which happens to be the cue that I need to make it.  I have talked about a couple friends who I cook dinners with occasionally, so when I knew we were getting together the week I saw that recipe I had to make it.  We were actually going to see a school rendition of a Shakespeare performance in the park around here and in the end, made the pizza, cut it and packed it to eat in the park.  A beautiful way to ease into summer if you ask me.  Here is the recipe, it is not hard at all the only complication is that you have to alote time to make the dough if you wish to make it yourself (which I highly recommend you do!).  Now that summer is upon us I jump at chances to use a grill, I’m sure  the feeling is mutual. Enjoy!!

Texas trip through food

For the most part, my whole mom’s side of the family lives in Texas, not all in the same city but mostly within the same state.  Once a year, we all gather in a large family reunion over easter weekend.  And I will the first to admit that traveling to Texas for easter has not been an annual thing for me or my immediate family.  Whenever I am actually back in Texas I love it, and I get strong feelings that I should go back every year at least for the reunion but then something happens and one year becomes 4 or 5.  Granted, I have been in school my whole life and at least the last 4 years have been in Santa Barbara away from the rest of my immediate family, which tends to complicate travel plans mainly because easter rarely falls within my spring break.  But this year we did it, and it was an amazingly fast but slow, family filled weekend of incredible humidity.

The reunion in particular is always so fun, even though I struggle with most names and can never remember who is connected with who everyone is family and is so warm and welcoming.  Even with the humidity there is something so fun about playing easter bunny and watching the kids scavenge for eggs.  (minus the fact that the kids make bank off the aunts and uncles who put money on their eggs).  But it really is a great feeling to be surrounded by so much family and to feel so connected to all these people, no matter how different we are.

Now down to the good stuff…the food.  I probably ate more food in the past four days than I usually do in a whole week.  Now I know that everyone eats more when they are on vacation or away from home but my goodness I couldnt believe how much I was eating and how much I couldnt stop myself from just one more dip in the queso. Words can’t do the food I ate justice, so much good BBQ, potatoes, mexican and of course queso. Ok so the food was amazing, hands down…but the place that left me speechless, drooling, and wanting to faint more than any other was the Whole Foods flagship store in Austin TX.   For years people have been telling me I need to go to a Whole Foods store, that it is just amazing and something that I must experience, but at the same time apparently the one in Santa Barbara is just not very good.  But the one in Austin is beyond words, a wall of cheese, wine tasting, meat and fish to die for, and of course the endless amount of prepared food.  I was so shocked all I could wrap my head around was purchasing an iced coffee.  I guess I’ll just have to go again to really let it sink in.  Here is my last 4 days of food through pictures..

The amazing wall of cheese at Whole Foods

The meal that should have left me full for days…but of course didn’t

Magmaaaaa queso dip