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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!


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!

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?

semi homemade: whole wheat gnocchi with chevre-spinach tomato sauce

1 Sep


A quick trip to TJ’s yielded a great haul- whole wheat gnocchi, TJ’s tomato sauce, Silver Goat herbed chevre (goat cheese) plus a few other yummies.

Bolstered by a glass of Layer Cake red awaiting my arrival in the kitchen, I whipped up a delish dish with some of my finds.

Adding 3 cups of spinach to the mix boosted the nutritional value as well as lowered my carb count…I was able to stretch this into 3 meals and needless to say, I am quite pleased with myself thank ya very much.



In the mix:

1 package whole wheat gnocchi

1 jar TJ’s classic pasta sauce

~1/4 large roll of Silver Goat herb chevre

3 cups spinach

salt for water

Boil 1 gallon of salted water for the  gnocchi. While boiling water, begin to simmer the sauce adding chunks of the goat cheese, stirring until it becomes a part of the sauce. Add in the spinach allowing it to cook down. Once water is boiling, add in gnocchi and boil for about 2 minutes until the gnocchi float to the top. Drain and add to the sauce. Garnish with a bit of goat cheese and savor!

BAM- comfort food at its best. I’m already looking forward to the leftovers for lunch…

semi homemade: burratta and arugula pizza

2 Aug

In much need of some comfort on a dreary Monday, I called mom and begged her to make me dinner. The proposed solution? Homemade pizza. Yes. Please.

Armed with whole wheat dough from TJ’s and a bevy of fantastic topping ideas we set to work on creating the most delish pizza ever.

There was even enough left over to take to work today for lunch. Can it be 1pm yet please?!

In the mix:

1 package whole wheat pizza dough

3/4 ball burratta cheese, sliced

caramelized onions (mom made these before hand- I hear a sprinkle of sugar went into the pan….)

sauteed onions (also made before I got there)

1/4 jar tomato/pizza sauce

fresh arugula

1/4 bag mixed shredded Italian cheeses

Follow directions for the dough, flouring and letting rise for 20 minutes. Spread some cornmeal on the bottom of the round pan and stretch the dough to fit. Spread a bit of olive oil over the dough and spread evenly with sauce. Distribute most of the caramelized onions and top with some cheese, add mushrooms and some more cheese. Bake in hot oven for 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle on a bit of arugula, then pull apart beautiful burratta slices and distribute the blobs lovingly over the pizza. Bake for another 5 minutes, top with more arugula, and bake for another minute or so. Remove from oven and let set for a few minutes before cutting and serving and enjoying with wild abandon.

Oh so affordable, fun and utterly bellissimo!






semi homemade: yogurty goodness

28 Jul

pure nutrition

With a new work schedule and significantly less time in the mornings, I have taken to eating breakfast at work instead of making poached eggs on toast at home as I did before classes.

Luckily, my office has some good options such as oatmeal and Eggo waffles, but on certain mornings I prefer to bring my own Greek yogurt and spice it up a bit.

This morning I went with a very light sprinkling of Kashi GoLean Crunch and a drizzle of agave nectar from TJ’s. It was delicious and filling- not to mention ridiculously full of protein!

Eat breakfast people- there are many easy solutions for the most important meal of the day!



What’s your favorite breakfast solution?

semi homemade: fresh vegetable soup

19 Jul


When I was abroad in London, my dad sent me a great soup recipe that was good for me and ridiculously easy on the wallet.

After an initial failed tasteless attempt, I proceeded to make it with wild abandon in giant batches every few weeks and unfreeze a Tupperware full for lunch or dinner. Served with a hunk of country bread from Borough Market, there was almost nothing better and I felt so very europa with every bite.

Below is my LA outpost version with the fresh farmers market veggies I bought Sunday. The smell brought me straight back to my flat on Bedford Place and making it was exceptionally therapeutic.


fresh veggies

In the mix:

3/4 box TJ’s low sodium vegetable broth

3 cups water

1/2 shallot, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 ripe tomato

1 medium leek, sliced in half rounds

4 red potatoes, roughly chopped

whatever was left of my button mushrooms (6 maybe?)

1 courgette (aka zucchini)

1 tsp rosemary


salt and peppah to taste

Basically, sautee the garlic, shallots and onion in the olive oil. Pour in the broth and water and bring to boil. Then, toss in the heartier veggies (potatoes, then zucchini) first, followed by the rest. Simmer until you can’t wait any longer (45 mins-ish?), serve and enjoy!


bubble bubble...

semi-homemade: farmers market fresh caprese sandwich

18 Jul

farmers market fare

What an idyllic weekend! With everyone terrified to drive the streets due to Carmageddon, LA morphed into Small Town U.S.A this weekend. People drove slow, you could get from Hancock Park to Beverly Hills in 15 minutes, and everyone was out and about in their neighborhoods enjoying the Southern California sunshine.

I took the weekend seriously and RELAXED. Slept in till 11am on Saturday, followed by a lovely brunch with boyfriend and a hike up Runyon Canyon. Such a great excuse to move and breathe for an hour. Simply nothing better.

After a wonderful experience at Larchmont Wine and Cheese on Saturday and my free for all at the farmer’s market on Sunday, I decided to put my new, fresh, ingredients to good use and try my hand at recreating one of their famous sandwiches.

I think it turned out quite well!


petite goodness

In the mix:

1 fresh tomato, sliced

2 slices mozzarella cheese (I only had low fat/low moisture left over from the pizza- blech- must go for the fresh stuff next time, even better, buratta….)

1/2 mini french baguette

6 basil leaves from my plant


salt and peppah

Slice the baguette lengthwise and top with olive oil and vinegar (however much you want), layer on tomato, mozz and basil, topping the mozz liberally with freshly ground salt and pepper. Cover with the other side of the baguette and bon appetite!

What did you do to slow down this weekend?

semi-homemade: mushroom and pea pasta

14 Jul

so many veggies

While tripping around the food blogs a few days ago, I came across a fabulous recipe that I couldn’t wait to try. The pictures delighted me and reminded me of the fresh entrees I would try to whip up in London.

So, with a grateful nod to the talented fellow blogger Lauren at All Things Simple, I attempted her Morel and Spring Pea Pasta a few nights ago- marching to the market on foot (one must be europa in all endeavors) for the ingredients with a very hungry boyfriend in tow.

Alas, our stomachs growled and my patience waned as I discovered that not only were the only morels available dried, but they were $8 for a few and much-too-much for my proletariat pocketbook to handle. Similarly, the “spring peas” were sad and dismal looking- a far cry from those I saw at the farmers market.

Disappointed and settling for brown mushrooms and frozen (gasp!) peas, we hoofed it back to my apt to see what we could make.

le appetizer

In order to appease our growling appetites, I set out some winey goat cheese and classic Carr’s crackers. Fortified enough now to cook, I attempted Lauren’s beautiful recipe…

In the mix (my version of Lauren B.’s recipe):

brown rice pasta (lower in gluten and generally healthier)

1 diced shallot

~1/4 c. vegetable stock

~1/3 c. cream

~2 tbls. extra virgin olive oil drizzled into pan

~1 c. sliced brown button mushrooms

~2 c. peas

salt and peppah to taste

Sautee the shallot in some evoo until soft, toss in the sliced mushrooms and allow to cook a bit. Add in the vegetable stock until it has reduced a bit, then add in the cream, stirring, also allowing to reduce and thicken, salt and pepper to taste then the (microwaved) peas. Toss with hot pasta and set aside for a bit in the warm pan to allow to thicken up. Stir and serve.

Voila, yummy pasta!

semi-homemade: pasta dinner

7 Jul

Last night I decided to have some friends from my old internship over to my new apt to catch up and enjoy a lovely plate of pasta and a bottle of wine.

Since I had some organic tomatoes, red onion and basil left over from pizza night (…and I’m cheap) I thought it might act as a good excuse to try  a fresh summer pasta sauce.

They generously brought some extra produce, whole wheat and rice pasta from Trader Joe’s as well as the red wine (!) and a feast was created.


In the mix:

3 chopped vine ripened organic tomatoes

3/4 carton of mini heirloom tomatoes from TJ’s (a MUST HAVE staple), chopped

2/3 container brown button mushrooms, sliced

3 cups fresh spinach

1/2 organic red onion

4 cloves garlic, diced

embarrassing amount of extra virgin olive oil

salt and peppah

Sautee the garlic, onions and mushrooms in the olive oil till cooked, throw in the rest, simmer and bam! pasta sauce. Toss lightly with the hot cooked pasta, top with some salt and pepper. Done and done.

taste the rainbow

In hindsight my only addition would maybe be a bit of white wine to the sauce, and perhaps some kalamata olives to punch up the saltiness.

Food really is more enjoyable when cooked (and consumed) with friends.

Viva la vie.