Food & Cocktails
Sometimes really neat things happen at work.
This was one of those times.
My work team and I masterminded a photo shoot for some new dishes and sauces our company chef created for clients. After painstakingly styling and capturing each dish, we got to devour every last (albeit cold) bite!
These are just the quick and dirty shots taken on my iPhone. The profesh ones are a thousand times better, of course.
I always thought it’d be bad-ass to work for a gourmet food magazine or in Bobby Flay’s test kitchen.
A couple times a year, I get my wish…
They’re not very sweet and, instead, nutty and butter, making them idyllic served with morning coffee or as a colorful companion to cheese, crudités and other apps.
I’m not sure which recipe (she said it was a quick, easy recipe she found in the newspaper), but here’s a recipe for Butter and Jam Thumbprints.
And the food! My holiday ambition is to eat oysters and caviar before year’s end. Preferably together, if I can find such an indulgence in Austin, Texas…
Trader Joe’s finally came to Austin, and it has dramatically, dreamily improved my life.
Like any Californian, TJ’s was a mainstay of my existence. How else does one entertain without the cheeses, tasty crackers and charcuterie so generously, affordably, offered by Trader’s? Saying goodbye to TJ’s was one of the hardest parts about moving to Texas two years ago.
But now TJ’s is back in my life, and I’m endless grateful to the powers that be for allowing us to reunite.
On a recent trip to this cheap, sexy store, I discovered a rich wild mushroom-tinged triple creme brie. You have to love the taste of mushrooms, obviously. It’s a winner…
My mom makes the best lumpia, which is a Filipino-style egg roll. Filipinos take pride in their lumpia, stuffing their rolls with their own combination of meat and veggies. These rolls of scrumptiousness are usually deep-fried, but my mama likes to make a batch of healthy, non-fried lumpia whenever she makes the fried version. They’re guiltless, just as delicious (if you don’t mind the absence of crunch), and are fun to munch on while you’re waiting for the fried ones to cook and cool.
Mom uses ground beef, garlic, onion, green beans, cabbage, and carrots in her recipe. Simply brown the meat and onions with garlic, throw the veggies in the pan too, and roll the mixture in razor-thin rice paper. Garnish with a leaf of lettuce and it’s ready to serve.
And here’s my growing lil’ chunk who in about a year can enjoy her lola’s lumpia…
Over the weekend, my BF made these amazing Martha Stewart Rosemary Butter Cookies for us (my best friend flew all the way from Cali to Texas to meet and bond with our new, pint-sized, much-loved addition!).
The cookies are savory, buttery and dusted with chunky specs of sugar, giving it a modest amount of sweetness.
And here’s Jassy Rae, who hit the four-week milestone this past weekend! She’s getting chunkier and more adorable (and slightly easier to care for!) by the day. As parents, we’re pretty excited we’ve been able to keep her alive, fed, burped, bathed, and thriving this past month. It’s a milestone for us too!
We love Jas’s long toes…
…And also the fantastic homemade starry-patchwork quilt given to Jas by our dear friends (thanks S+M!).
On a side note, not sure how photogs are able to snap those precious naked-baby-sleeping shots. Because as soon as I strip her down to her birthday suit, the wailing begins. They must have a heat lamp and/or Baby Zzzquil on hand to knock infants out.
My super wonderful mom-in-law has been staying with us since we got home from the hospital, and she has been cooking up a storm, including two batches of these delicious sweet and salty chocolate chip cookies. It’s Giada’s recipe with the addition of Maldon sea salt on top. When you’re sleep-deprived and starved for days on end, fresh-baked cookies make everything better.
Our little wonder, Jassy Rae, turned a week old this past Saturday! We’re still trying to finagle a firm sleeping/feeding schedule, which takes a bit of time, say all of my mommy friends. Hiz and I spend hours staring at her, in awe of this tiny, feisty creature who is ours forever.
Like most postpartum moms, I’m hyper emotional and will cry just looking at her. I also cried after the utilities serviceman left our home the other night. Not sure what that says about my mental state!
Jassy Rae hated her one-week photo shoot, despite having been freshly fed, bathed and changed.
Here she is sleeping, looking decidedly more content…
Every autumn I bake up this rich, heavenly pumpkin dessert. It’s Paula Deen’s recipe, which means it’s soaked in butter (and cream cheese!), but I love it anyway. Especially when it’s fresh out of the oven, all warm and oozing. Ecstasy.
And here are a few quick snapshots of our casa. (It’s still sparsely decorated, which is killing me! I’ll max-out the house with color and pieces eventually.)
I am beyond excited to have a spacious bedroom that affords plenty of space for McG’s lifestyle props, like her pretty bassinet…
We kept the home’s interior finishes (the cabinets, the stonework) crisp and clean—it’s a good foundation for a few garish furniture and decor ideas I have planned. I’m dying to start the first layer of color and texture in key rooms of the house. A bit of decadent wallpaper here, loud billowy curtains there… in due time!
Here’s a shot of the kitchen and my hiz, who is taking the Bjorn carrier out for a test drive. (Purnie is always a good sport!)
A simple, massive dessert was just what I needed for lunch.
I sing the praises of this ice cream bar to anyone who will listen. It’s a (gulp) Costco ice cream bar sold in the food court, and it makes my world spin in all the right ways.
My good friend made me chuckle the other day: “Your belly is pretty amazing: It’s a bullet,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pointy belly like yours.”
I’m 37 weeks, and in the interest of trying to remember little milestones during pregnancy, here’s a rundown of what’s happening with me and McG: My cervix is still “up high,” which means baby isn’t coming anytime soon, they say. (Phew! I was worried I’d deliver way early for some reason.) She’s in perfect health and spends her days rolling around my insides, kicking ferociously, especially around lunchtime and when I’m driving home from work (maybe she hates traffic?).
I’ve gained 21 pounds so far, and the sonographer thinks the baby probably weighs 5-6 pounds right now, though the baby could weigh a pound more since this is just an estimate, she said.
We’re all moved into the house (snapshots coming soon; the backdrop above is our new backyard fireplace!), and while we’re not quite settled, we’re settled enough. This weekend we’ll build the crib…. at last! I’ve been waiting for this day for so long.
I spent hours scouring baking websites looking for a standout recipe. I stumbled upon this Peanut Butter & Greek Yogurt Frosting and immediately fell in love.
I love peanut butter, my hiz loves peanut butter, and we happen to eat enormous amounts of Greek yogurt—we use it as a sour cream substitute and slurp it down every morning in our smoothies—so why shouldn’t we swap it for butter in frosting?
After investing loads of time on recipe hunting and—hurray!—a victorious frosting find, I was pooped. I had no energy to look for a complicated, from-scratch cake base, so I used a trusty box of Trader Joe’s Vanilla Bean Cake Mix (my bakerella galpal swears by it when in a pinch).
The cake was a snap (it’s midget-sized because I used a big ol’ springform pan instead of the recommended 8×8). And full disclosure about my frosting: I used molasses instead of maple syrup and, since there were pesky lumps in my frosting, I macerated the frosting mixture in a food processor and chilled it before slathering it on the cake. Then I zested chocolate over the top to give it some pizzazz.
The vanilla bean meshed gorgeously with the totally unexpected Greek yogurt frosting. The frosting isn’t super sweet (you can add more syrup/molasses to sugar it up), and it has a subtle tartiness that Greek yogurt lovers, of course, will adore.
My hiz, mom and I all agree that this frosting is our new healthy go-to cupcake topper, especially when it’s piled on three stories higher.
Not that we have anything against butter-heavy frosting.
But eating a second slice of cake without a smidge of regret is gloriously gratifying.
A bad day, a break-up, a breakout, money woes, stress at work or home, for little celebrations, big celebrations, or no event at all…
Pasta—of any kind—will set the world right again. That’s why I eat it several times a week!
On a different topic, the hizzard and I just finished the last of our Lamaze classes, or “Le Mans” class as he always calls it (he must think we’re preparing for a French motor race).
I loved, loved, loved this class! For two and a half hours every week, we watched scary videos and sprawled out on the floor with pillows while learning to take deep breaths. My husband was forced to stare at me for minutes on end, massage my body, listen to my breathing, and do anything and everything he could to bring my comfort to epic heights.
It was dote-on-your-pregnant-paramour time, and I devoured every second of it.