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semi homemade: valentine cookies

13 Feb

I love Valentine’s Day. I always have.

For me, it has never really been about having a valentine per se (yeah! who needs a prix fixe menu anyway!) , it is more about the making of the tiny cards and notes, glitter, hearts, and cookies that radiate around the day itself. I know tons of people despise Valentine’s Day as some pre-fab holiday created to sell us all crap, but I love it for its silliness.

This year, I am righteously celebrating Galentine’s Day. Cookie baking and card making started it off and tomorrow a girlfriend and I are hitting up Bodgea Wine Bar and The Arclight for some wine and classic cinema-The Philadelphia Story- the ultimate rom com, on the big screen.

After a day of making my apartment smell delicious, I brought these little morsels of joy to work, hoping to spread some love (giving) and cement my status as a nice person (teensy bit selfish).

I think it worked.

Valentine’s Day cookies

~inspired by Cupcakes and Cashmere~

4 rolls sugar cookie dough (for the semi-lazy like moi)

2 boxes (4 cups) powdered sugar

3 tablespoons meringue powder

10 tablespoons warm water

Roll out your dough (I suggest cutting each roll into half then rolling) and cut into your favorite shapes with cookie cutters. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and make icing by combining powdered sugar, meringue powder and water in large bowl. Beat for about 10 minutes or until firm but still liquidy enough to pipe. In separate bowls, add a small drop of food coloring to get pastel colors. Scoop the frosting into separate baggies and clip a small corner off. Pipe a heart outline around the cookie and the “flood” by filling in and spreading around with more icing. Repeat, and continue to decorate until adorable.

Pair with some champagne and EAT with wild abandon!

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simply homemade: zucchini “pasta”

2 Feb

Ahhh how my loves for a good carb surmounts almost all of my passions. Soft or crunchy bread and fresh made pasta dance in my dreams.

Yikes.

Recently, I have been working to improve my carbo-loaded lifestyle and cut back on the no carb left behind mantra I normally sing. I reached out to a friend who practices a mostly raw diet for help and she opened me up to the world of veggie spiralizers and zucchini pasta.

Rushing over to her mountain-top pad, we spiralized and chopped to our little hearts desire producing a delicious and ridiculously nutritious meal that FAR exceeded my expectations. Tasting a bit like bruchetta, this room-temp “pasta” was to die for.

In the mix (adapted from Whole Living)

8 ounces cherry tomatoes sliced

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts

2 tablespoons torn fresh basil, plus leaves for garnish

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Sea salt

1-2 zucchini, spiralized

In a bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, basil, and oil. Season with salt. Let stand 20 minutes. Toss with zucchini and garnish with basil.

So easy, fresh and delicious, I whip this up in minutes when I’m hungry for a quick dinner or snack.

homemade: what’s in the fridge “pizza”

12 Jan

I have been trying to new years resolution myself into eating healthy these past few weeks and on the whole I have been succeeding. (yay me)

However, despite one random run to Trader Joe’s this past weekend, I haven’t done much grocery shopping. I strive to be a person who, like the Europeans, goes to the market for fresh fruits and veg a few times a week, but often my grocery story visits turn into a bi-monthly occasion. This, as you can imagine, leaves me with little to work with on ‘Downton Abbey Night’….

Enter the what’s in the fridge “pizza”

yes, that is the glow of Downton in the back...

1 Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain tortilla

1 handful soy shredded blend cheese

2 smallish fresh tomatoes

some marinara sauce

4 slices of Columbus salami (and a few eaten but not on the pizza…)

micro greens to garnish

Preheat the oven to 350. Place the tortilla on a baking sheet and spread on a semi-generous amount of marinara sauce. Top with “cheese”, sliced tomatoes and salami. Bake in the oven for about 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melty. Garnish with the micro-greens (they add a nice, peppery flavor) and slice into quarters.

Voila! So delish, easy and totally last minute!

simply homemade: fettuccine with truffle butter

3 Jan

Happy New Year everybody!

For almost everyone, the holidays are a wonderful time with friends, family and culinary indulgence. The past two weeks were just the same for me, but I have to say that I think I probably had the most delicious culinary indulgences the season had to offer…

fettuccine. with. truffle. butter. sauce.

This was one absolutely fantastic dinner (if I do say so myself)…

Mom and I decided to whip up a recipe that had caught BOTH of our fancies (on separate occasions!-shocking!) and boy did it pay off.

After three stores were called, we came upon the white truffle butter at Whole Foods and wham-bam we had the most delicious pasta possibly EVER.

in the mix:

Kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 ounces white truffle butter
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (8.82-ounce) package egg fettuccine
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (we used green onions, no chives at the store)
3 ounces Parmesan, shaved thin with a vegetable peeler (best trick ever)

1. Add 1 tablespoon salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, in a large (12-inch) saute pan, heat the cream over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Add the truffle butter, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, lower the heat to very low, and swirl the butter until it melts. Keep warm over very low heat.

3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook about 4 minutes until al dente. When the pasta is cooked, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the drained pasta to the saute pan and toss it with the truffle-cream mixture. As the pasta absorbs the sauce, add as much of the reserved cooking water, as necessary, to keep the pasta very creamy.

4. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls and garnish each serving with a generous sprinkling of chives and shaved Parmesan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve at once.

Bellissimo!

feelin’ good: part 1

12 Dec

As a mostly-vegetarian and lover of exploring vegan, this weekend I grabbed a buddy and hit up some of the great healthy eating options LA has to offer.

Below are some of my fave healthy options around- more to come, of course…

M Cafe

Addicted isn’t even the right word to describe how much I love their Dilled Tofu Wrap with the spicy peanut kale side. Pure heaven. They also have  $5 vegan breakfast burrito if you get there before 11am. Total steal. Although the juices are outrageously priced, the tasty macrobiotic cuisine is worth the extra bucks here and there.

Cafe Gratitude

This is definitely one of my favorites when going “mega-healthy.” It is delicious and comforting and the atmosphere is so serene that you can’t HELP but be thankful. My most favorite is the I Am Whole macrobiotic bowl- just a few bites make you feel like a new human from the inside out. Delicious and different. With a few Gratitude’s all over Cali, you too can get your grateful on.

Sun Power Natural Cafe

Ah, so many Cafe’s so little time. Another vegan, organic/raw option with some delicious offerings. I prefer Sun Power’s BLT to Cafe Gratitude’s though- it is a bit heartier and their wheat bun is to die for.

west hollywood: eva

9 Dec

The weekend is approaching and the  promise of a relaxing one hangs before me. I can’t help but reminisce about leisurely brunches past…

Ah, the glory of the bottomless mimosa brunch. Although this is round two here for me at Eva in West Hollywood, it was no-less the quaint and lovely than it was the first time.

This past go-round I took it easy on the mimosas and instead enjoyed the delightful company on a chilly LA morning. Feasting on rich homemade granola and a delicate mushroom and fresh pea omelette, I couldn’t have found a better way to start the day…

(also-happy birthday dad)

simply homemade: pimento cheese

16 Nov

Unapologetic Disclaimer: Although this blog is meant to be dedicated to the pursuit of all things delicate and beautiful and europa, I couldn’t help but digress into the deepest of deep Americana today.

So, I was cruisin’ the ‘net the other day and this little streaming bit of joy jumped into my consciousness. Nestled among the other bits of joy on my favorite site The Hairpin, I discovered Pimento Cheese, a Southern staple that I had yet to ever hear of.

Pimento cheese is neither delicate nor beautiful, but hot damn is it tasty.

Enthralled with the video and entrenched in the history of this odd cheesy spread, my usual cravings got the best of me. After obsessing over it all day, per usual, I rushed to Trader Joe’s after work to pick up all the fixin’s.

In the customary style of my impulse craving grocery shopping excursions, they did not have the central ingredient, PIMENTO, so I settled on buying a jar of pimento stuffed olives and pulling out the insides. Genius, I know. No need for applause.

In the mix:

Extra extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (NOT pre-grated)

pimento (duh)

1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise

salt and peppah to taste

crackers and celery

After shredding my extra extra sharp NY cheddar and adding a dollop of mayonnaise (reduced fat…sorry Southerners) to the bowl, I stirred and mashed until the spread was “done” (I have no idea what that really looks like, but I was hungry so I called it good.) Spread on some plain white crackers (they suggested saltines or Ritz, but I panicked in the check out line and grabbed what was next to me) and celery sticks, this Southern treat was the perfect little dinner for one girl and an episode of Pan Am.

santa monica: the dining room

14 Nov

Located in the beautiful and deco Hotel Shangri-LA, The Dining Room is an enjoyable culinary nook nestled right off of the entrance.

Although it was virtually empty*, our French-imported waiter, Bello, was the sweetest and the food was even sweeter.

sea bass

chicken and dumplings

steak frites

The cheese flight starter was heaven (obviously), accented by marcona almonds and honey comb. My Sea Bass was fantastic. Although I opted for the small portion..shocking, I know…paired with the cheese and a glass of Pinot, it was the perfect meal to savor and enjoy.

With a crispy crust on the bass nestled on top of tender beluga lentils and swiss chard, it truly was a delight. Rumor has it the Chicken (Cornish game hen) and Dumplings (gnocchi-ish bits), was delicious and I can say the Portobello frites were a treat.

Take the awesome elevator up to the rooftop for a fantastic and romantic view of the Santa Monica Pier and expansive ocean.

*we later learned the party was actually raging upstairs on their roof-top bar…

i know this is my job…

1 Nov

but what should I make for dinner????

semi homemade: heirloom tomato and mozzarella pizza

25 Oct

Sometimes all you need in a little solo pizza to get you through the week. Last week was one of those weeks.

Getting over a cold and feeling the need to cozy up,  I dashed to Whole Foods after work and couldn’t believe my luck when I found a chilled cornmeal crust in the gourmet section and beautiful fresh tomatoes in the produce aisle.

Cornmeal crust will always remind me of a little pizza restaurant in the Marina in San Francisco called Olive’s (does anyone know if it’s still there?!). They had the most delicious cornmeal crust that made any pizza seem decadent and special.

So armed with my own par-baked crust, I hurried home and started on my own little project.

In the mix (makes 2 pizzas):

1 package of par-baked cornmeal pizza crusts (2 per package)

1 ball of soft mozzarella

4 medium tomatoes

4 tbls low sodium tomato sauce or mariana sauce

basil leaves

salt and peppah

Spread 2 tbls of tomato sauce onto each crust and season lightly with salt and pepper. Top with sliced onions and bake in hot oven for about 10 minutes to allow onions to soften a bit. Remove from oven and top with  slices of tomato and mozz each as well as a few slices of fresh basil. return to oven and bake for another 5-8 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before slicing. Garnish with a bit of fresh cracked pepper, serve with white wine and enjoy!

In all, this took less than 30 minutes to make and was a FANTASTICALLY gourmet meal. What is more Europa than that?