Friday, December 23, 2011

Voyeur Fridays - Breakfast at Tiffany's Brownstone Goes on Sale


Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of my favorite movies. I'm not one of those clichéd Audrey Hepburn fans who posts iconic shots of the actress up around her room. I never bought into the "classy and fabulous" aesthetic, because nobody can do it quite like Audrey, and quite frankly, I prefer a bit of edginess to break up traditional ideals of style and beauty. This does not, however, mean that I didn't squeal when I saw this headline on the news today. I love BaT. I love the Holly Golightly character and her irreverent attitude. I always cry when she sings "Moon River" on the ledge of that great, old brownstone window. I can't help but get emotional every time Cat comes running back into her arms, proving to everyone just how similar she and her owner are. And if I had $5.85 million to spare, I would spend it in a heartbeat just to own a piece of cinematic history. Wouldn't you?






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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Foodie Holiday Gift Guide

Holiday meals have always intrigued me and I feel it's because Christmas cooking brings out the festive elf in everyone, Grinch or not. Everyone loves a good meal and the spirit of the holidays can best be described by the feeling you get when you gather your nearest and dearest around the hub of your home to grub, giggle, and give thanks for years past. What's even better is packaging that feeling and delivering it to those who are celebrating solo, far away, or not at all.



Which brings my attention to my favorite edible gifts to give away during Christmas! Here is a list of fun and festive gifts for a foodie, culinary connoisseur, and all-around lover of all things edible. I decided against posting Tasty Tuesday or Thursty Thursday recipes this week in order to not inundate your reading panes with food posts. Oh, who am I kidding? You love it!
  1. Williams-Sonoma Manni White Truffle Extra Virgin Olive Oil, $89.50
  2. Bottega Louie Champagne Bubbles Candy
  3. Sur La Table Di Bruno Fresh Burrata Tasting Collection, $39.95
  4. Vosges Haut Chocolat Luxury Gourmet Caramel Marshmallows, $13
  5. Williams-Sonoma Truffle & Salt, $29.95
  6. Dean & DeLuca Mugolio Pine Syrup, $28
  7. Fran's Chocolates Gray & Smoked Salt Caramels, $12.50
  8. Valerie Confectioners Toasted Fig Tea, $20

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kardashian Khristmas Kard


I not-so-secretly wish I were born a Kardashian. If I replace a few letters of their last name, subtract a sex tape, and add a few siblings, I can be one step closer! If you recall, I proudly professed my obsession with their Christmas card last year and will do it again this! Maybe next year I can convince my family to line up against an architecturally interesting wall, dressed in sequins and androgyny, mean mugging the camera. And how adorable is baby Mason in his mini tuxedo and far-off gaze? Fabulous!





Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Hostess Gift List

I'm lucky enough to be celebrating Christmas this year at my parents' house, which means my mom, sister, and I will have free reign over the edibles and drinkables served at our lavish feast. And it will be lavish. One thing this means is that I will not have to think of an original, personal, and thoughtful hostess gift to take to my host/hostess' home. If I did, however, I would look no further than this holiday hostess gift list to ensure I was presenting my gracious host or hostess with the finest, funnest, and most practical present. What is your go-to hostess gift? I personally love anything edible, so those Marc de Champagne truffles would be #1 on my list. Happy gifting!

  1. Crate and Barrel Confetti Plate, $6.95
  2. Anthropologie Leather Armadillo Carafe, $158
  3. Fortnum & Mason Marc de Champagne Truffles, $30
  4. Cire Trudon L'Admirable lime, lily and vanilla scented candle, $80
  5. West Elm Wine Bottle with Wood Stopper, $39
  6. Z Gallerie Agate Candle, $20
  7. Kate Spade Hers and Hers Tumblers, $50
  8. Miette Cookbook, $17
  9. Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite "Let Them Eat Cake" No. 11 Parfum, $28

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays - Peppermint Bark


Well, I did it. I finally made the one recipe that had intimidated me for weeks. Turns out, it wasn't as hard as it looks (yay, puns)! Inspired by a friend's weekly baking project and my department's impending Christmas potluck, I figured I'd make something black, white, and red all over using this recipe. This is the perfect holiday recipe that combines chocolate and peppermint flavors, plus a festive crunch. All it takes a little bit of speed, elbow grease, and good judgment. Oh, and a sweet tooth doesn't hurt! What's your favorite holiday cookie, candy, or dessert recipe?



Monday, December 12, 2011

A White and Whimsical Christmas Party!



I couldn't help posting these photos from Cupcake Julie's 2010 Christmas party. If I could live in a world of candy cane kisses and sugar plum dreams, I would imagine it would look a little bit like this. The party was featured on Bakerella's site last year and it continues to make me smile, squeal, and giggle in girly giddiness! I came across it again after searching high and low for a holiday dessert recipe to take to my office Christmas party or give away as gifts to my coworkers. Cake pops? Peppermint bark? Nutella truffles? Oh, the choices. Perhaps I'll take a cue or two from Cupcake Julie's massive and magical dessert table...








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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thursty Thursdays - Mulled Wine Recipe

By now, you must know about my obsession with all things rich, deep, heady, and holiday-esque. A combination of these sends me to another place on the regular. For real. Being the first of December, the veritable beginning of the end, and the start of one of my favorite scent seasons, I chose to fill my house with the warmth and spice of mulled wine, one of the most decadent wintertime beverages. One little whiff of the cinnamon, Madagascar cloves, orange peel, and allspice berries, and I was in heaven. And I just had to open the canister! This simple brew will make your head spin in holiday delight.



Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • Williams-Sonoma Mulling Spices
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Garnish:
  • honey
  • powdered cinnamon
  • apple, sliced lengthwise

Directions:

Tie a few scoops of mulling spices in a small square of cheesecloth, or put them in a large metal tea ball.

In a large, nonaluminum pot, combine the wine and sugar. Add the spice bundle. Heat over medium-low heat until steam begins to rise from the pot and the mixture is hot, about 10 minutes; do not let it boil. Remove the spice bundle. Keep the wine warm over very low heat until ready to serve.

Dip cocktail glass rim into honey, then dredge in cinnamon.

Ladle the wine into cups or heatproof glasses, garnish with citrus zest, cinnamon sticks, or apple slices and serve warm. Serves 4-6.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tasty Wednesdays - Roasted Parsnip and Pear Soup

Give me a roasted pureed root vegetable any day or night of the week and I am a well-fed and happy girl. Blend savory onion with earthy parsnip and sweet pear and you have a dish that will make any cold autumn night warm and toasty. Parsnips have been popping up everywhere I turn as of late, but who's complaining? I've had it mashed, sauteed, and now roasted and have enjoyed it in every incarnation. Last night, I finally peeled, cored, and cubed my way to the perfect first or main course with the help of this recipe and a bit of elbow grease. Those woody parsnip centers really took the wind out of me! Try it--you'll see what I'm talking about!




Roasted Parsnip and Pear Soup

Ingredients
2 pounds parsnips, peeled and with woody core removed (see *Tip)
2 pears, peeled and cut into eighths
1 small yellow or white onion, peeled and cut into eighths
1 tablespoon light vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 1/4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
2 1/4 cups low-fat milk

1. Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450 F.

2. Toss parsnips, pears, onion, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a roasting pan. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until very soft and starting to brown, about 40 minutes.

4. Puree half of the parsnip mixture with broth in a blender until very smooth; transfer to a large saucepan. Puree the other half with milk until very smooth. Add to the saucepan and stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

5. Reheat the soup over medium heat, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a thyme sprig.

*Tip: Remove the fibrous, woody core of parsnips before using–quarter parsnip lengthwise and cut out the core with a paring knife.

Makes 6 servings, generous 1 cup each.

Monday, November 28, 2011

This or That? Black Leather Bootie

 Anyone who knows me and/or my shopping habits knows that I have been on an everlong unsuccessful hunt for the perfect black bootie. The combination of my slim foot, nonexistent ankles, and severe pickiness has resulted in this conundrum. Why can't a shoe manufacturer just make a chunky high-heel closed-toe leather ankle boot with the perfect platform and zero hardware? That doesn't make me look like I have gigantic feet? For under $150? I know, I'm reaching. But I've recently found two booties that fit my not-so-out-of-the-ordinary wants! All I need is help deciding on which will fulfill my needs the most. Can you help a sister out?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursty Thursdays - Roasted Almond Shooter


Almond has long been one of my favorite, if not my favorite, flavors and scents. Its rich, bittersweet, and sensual flavor is all-consuming, romantic, and absolutely heavenly. Wait, am I still talking about food? Indeed. After spotting a newly-opened bottle of Kahlua on my dining room table, I scoured the web for a cocktail recipe that would satisfy my sophisticated palate. Boy, did I find one! This little shooter combines all of my cocktail cravings--creamy, dimensional, and pleasing to all of my senses. I decided to reduce the size of this drink to a shot for various reasons, mostly because I wanted to savor the flavors of this delectable beverage one sip at a time. Try this at your holiday parties (the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table) for an unexpected nod to the warm and rich scents and spices of the season!


Roasted Almond Shooter
1 oz. vodka (I used Belvedere)
1 oz. amaretto (I used Disaronno)
1 oz. coffee liqueur (I used Kahlua)
2 oz. cream or half and half
Ice
Crushed almonds for rim

> Dip rim of glass into cream and then into shaved almonds.
> Combine all ingredients over ice and shake in a cocktail shaker.
> Pour into glass, careful to not unsettle almond rim. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Autumn Outfit: Thanksgiving Edition


Because I love to eat, and because Thanksgiving is all about stuffing your face until you pop, my relatives will probably not be seeing me in this chic bohemian holiday outfit. Instead, a pair of spandex-blend pants will be desperately cradling my rapidly expanding belly as I consume excess amounts of starches, sugars, and carbohydrates. Hopefully, said spandex-blend pant outfit will still make me stand out come Thanksgiving day. What will you be wearing Thursday evening? Will you be taking advantage of the colors of the season? Whatever it is, have a happy and healthy holiday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays - Pumpkin Hummus



I thought for a while how to incorporate the can of pumpkin puree that was burning a hole in my kitchen cabinet into a fun, festive holiday dish that wouldn’t offend or disappoint. Its flavors and textures take some getting used to for some people, even though it is one of my favorites, so I tried to figure out a way to reinvent a classic using its sweet and spicy notes. Hummus is a staple in my, and most Middle Eastern/Mediterranean homes. Only recently has the chickpea puree made it into the mainstream, arguably headlining the health food revolution. It can be paired with most every meal and is a great blank canvas upon which to layer at the creative cook’s whim.

Here, the homey holiday essential takes a bit of a back seat to the earthy richness of hummus, but still has its chance to shine with the help of a few select ingredients. 



Pumpkin Hummus
One can ready-made chickpea dip
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin or canned pumpkin puree
1/4 cup vegetable broth (plus more if needed)
1 tbsp tahini
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
1/4 tsp salt
*I made this myself by combining 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp ground all spice, and 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg.

In a large bowl, mix chickpea dip, pumpkin puree, vegetable broth, and tahini until fully integrated and without lumps. If necessary, add in more vegetable broth, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Lastly, add in garlic, pumpkin pie spice, and salt to taste. Mix until fully integrated. Top with desired garnish (I used extra virgin olive oil and a few cloves) and enjoy with vegetables, pita chips, or whatever your heart desires. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Winter Wish List




1. Kate Spade Sophie Cape, $350
3. Jo Malone Orange Blossom Candle, $65
4. ASOS Tino Ankle Boot, $122
5. Madewell Furry Earmuffs, $40
6. Lodis Siren E-Reader Case, $78
7. Halston Heritage Faux Fur Vest, $345
8. Topshop Coated Black Jeans, $80
9. Karen Walker Eyewear Number Six Sunglasses, $180

How, oh, how will I get through the autumn/winter months without one or all of the goodies on this list? Answer: I won't. The good news is that I can afford most of them or at least supplement my birthday money with a few extra buckaroonees to pad my cold weather wardrobe. A cape is all that I have been searching for all season, and I hope I can find a more budget-friendly version of this Kate Spade cover-up. A fur vest is also at the top of my list and I hope I can find the perfect one before the style is through. And what California girl spoiled by sizzling summers would refuse a pair of warm and fuzzy earmuffs? Not this one! The rest is all gravy, and we all know how much I love gravy. Papa (or Santa), can you hear me? I neeeeeds me a few of these to get me through the season!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Style Envy - Lauren Bush and David Lauren's Wedding


I love me a good celebrity wedding. Heck, I'm obsessed with all things wedding, celebrity or not. Why? Because a wedding is the biggest, most important, and most lavish event you will throw and (possibly) attend in your life. It's the one chance that you, if you're into this stuff, can show your creativity, style savvy, and hostessability. Which is why I literally squealed when I first saw photos of Lauren Bush and David Lauren's all-American wedding. From the modern Victorian hand-crafted gown to the hauntingly beautiful horse-drawn entrance, this wedding was IT. Wild West with a contemporary twist? I'm all over it! Also, what a dream to marry the son of a top American clothier who also happens to be Vera Wang's former mentor! Ralph Lauren even called on his protege for tips. Did I mention famed fashion photographer Norman Jean Roy shot the whole thing? Dying. And plotting how to get my future wedding in the pages of Vogue.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursty Thursdays - Persimmon Punch

Well, I suck. I have been trying to be better at providing original content on my blog, but I have failed. I wanted so badly to make this Thursty Thursday special with a unique cocktail that I whipped up all by my lonesome. Alas, I was way too tired last night and went to bed remarkably early. I promise that I will make up for it next week with some homemade concoctions (hey, remember when I slaved over a food processor for three hours last weekend?).

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For this week's thirst quencher, I thought I would bring you some seasonal flavors that are not often found on everyone's harvest table. Incorporating new flavors should be a priority each season, and that of persimmon is the perfect complement to autumnal scents and spices. Persimmon has always been a staple in our house, but many have not sampled the tomato-shaped fruit with the tough skin and spiced-and-speckled flesh. This cocktail is a great way to pay homage to one of my favorite fall fruits.


Persimmon Punch
  • 2 persimmons, blanched then rough chopped
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
> Bring all ingredients to a boil for no more than two minutes.
> Place in blender and mix until smooth.
> Strain through a fine mesh strainer, set aside allowing to cool.
  • 4 oz of persimmon puree (instructions above) to blender
  • 2 oz of orange juice
  • 2 oz of cranberry juice
  • 1 shot of clear rum
> Mix in blender until all ingredients combined. Then, add a splash of ginger ale and mix with a straw.  
> Serve chilled or warm.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays - Nutella Truffles

My belly is really enjoying this new feature! Since I debuted Tasty Tuesdays last week, I have had an outpouring of requests to make and snap a few of my tried-and-true favorites and new recipes that I have been dying to try. I figured I'd start with an easy recipe that even the most amateur baker can take on. Since I'm usually on the cooking side of the kitchen, I decided to ditch my savory tooth in favor of a sweeter option. What I found was this recipe that can be great as a hostess/holiday gift or even just to set on a table during a fabulous dinner or cocktail party. Just make sure to serve them in style--I chose this luminescent vintage-inspired candy dish, one of my favorite pieces in my collection.


I used half of this recipe, which yielded approx. 24 truffles.

Ingredients
> One half of a large (26 oz.) container of Nutella
> 7 oz. (one regular-sized bag) of  hazelnut-filled wafers
> One bag of candy melts (I used these in light cocoa)
> 1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts

Directions
> Place the wafers in the food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped. You want the pieces to be small and not powder-like. Then, add the Nutella and pulse until combined. Mixture will be very soft. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze for an hour.

> By now, the mixture should have hardened. With a mini ice-cream scooper or teaspoon, scoop out balls and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the balls back in the freezer for 2 minutes so they harden up again. (You have to work fast because they melt fast. If you have this problem, pop them in the freezer and shape them into balls with the palms of your hands).

> Place the hazelnuts into a small bowl. Roll the truffles into the hazelnuts and place them back onto the cookie sheet. When done rolling them all, place them back in the freezer for another 2 minutes.

> In the meantime, melt the chocolate in the microwave per the instructions on the bag.

> Dip the truffles one-by-one into the chocolate and place them back on the lined cookie sheets.

> Sprinkle tops of truffles with either chopped hazelnut bits or hazelnut wafer crumbles.

> Keep the truffles refrigerated and take out of the fridge 10 minutes before serving.


Bon appetit!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lady Bollywood


It's rare to see Her Royal Gaga-ness in anything short of over-the-top. Cascading hair, designer gowns, and up-swept coifs are few and far between in her much-embellished life. But what better place to show off her unexpectedly elegant side than in India? On her first trip to the exotic locale, Gaga flirted with Far East fashion by choosing draped and dramatic styles with eye-popping jewels, to boot. Check out her India photo diary, shot by Guardian photographer Jamie-James Medina.








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