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

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
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?).

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.


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.

> 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

> 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.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Voyeur Fridays - Lyons' Den

Have you ever made a life-changing decision that was maybe a little bit irresponsible, but would make you supremely happy in the long-run? I'm sure, by now, that you have all heard of Jenna Lyons' (creative director of J.Crew) shocking decision to leave her eight-year-long marriage to Vincent Mazeau to live with her female "lovah" Courtney Crangi (yes, sister of celebrated man-jeweler Philip). I say, more power to her! It's quite difficult to choose a lifestyle that will not make sense to anybody else except for the people living it. Now, I don't condone breaking up a marriage or anything, but it was the choice that ultimately set her free and for that, I say bravo. In other news, when did this blog turn into an estrogen-fest? Let's check out some celebrity homes!

Here is Jenna's four-story 1880s Brooklyn abode, glistening in its warm minimalism and overall J.Crewiness. I'm enchanted by the historical architecture in stark contrast to the clean lines and unexpected textures. I think the Lyons-Mazeaus did a good job of maintaining the integrity of the home while staying true to their personal preferences. As for their family life, well...


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursty Thursdays - Cranberry Margarita

I love cranberry sauce. Not the slice-and-serve jiggle that you squeeze out of a can and plop onto your plate. No, I fantasize about my mom's homemade, stewed cranberry compote that elevates every dish, no matter what the time of year, to holiday status. Whole, plump cranberries that pop in your mouth, and a rich, sweet sauce with just the right amount of tartnessperfection! Since the season is right around the corner (I can already hear the turkeys gobbling), it's a great time to reintroduce some tried-and-true holiday flavors to your post-summer palate.

This recipe caught my eye, because a.) I love margaritasplain, with just tequila, sweet and sour, lime juice, and ice cubes (and I'm not a purist when it comes to edibles or imbibables!)and b.) because the vision of sugared cranberries on a spear just screams Thanksgiving! So enjoy crafting and consuming this cocktailI know I will!


  • 3/4 cup 100% cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) fresh or thawed cranberries
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice (5-6 limes)
  • 3/4 cup tequila
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur


  1. Pour the cranberry juice into the blender, reserving 1 Tbsp.
  2. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp sugar onto a small plate.
  3. Use the cranberry juice to coat the rims of 4 to 6 glasses (6 to 8 oz each) and then dip the glasses into the sugar. Fill with ice and set aside.
  4. Reserve 12 cranberries and place the rest in the blender along with the water, sugar, lime juice, tequila, and orange liqueur.
  5. Blend 30 seconds, or until smooth.
  6. Pour through a strainer to catch the cranberry pulp.
  7. Pour the strained margarita into glasses and garnish with reserved berries.
Yields: 4 servings


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Leopard Moments

I can't help but be drawn to touches of leopard. Whether it's courtesy of a luxurious fur jacket or a peek of a skinny belt, the vivacious print seems to add a bit of modern elegance to any look. Prepare for some uber-chic leopard picspam--a requirement for any slow-moving Wednesday. Enjoy!

{photos are not my own}

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays - Roasted Tomato Soup

Fall, in my house, means food. Rich, warm, earthy, dimensionally flavored food. Meats are seasoned with sweets and spices, poultry is roasted in its savory juices, and the tender texture of root vegetables are contrasted with the crunch of seeds and nuts. Though I pride myself on being a true-blue summer girl, I love the warm heartiness of autumnal offerings. And if I had more time on my hands, I would take advantage of the seasonal ingredients available to me and whip up the wholesome classics I grew up eating and reading about in my mother's extensive cookbook collection. Instead, I indulge in the dynamic and delectable recipes I peruse online, making mental notes of the steaming hotpots, sizzling souffles, and sweet and savory pies that pique my palate. Like this roasted tomato soup with broiled cheddar that I borrowed from Smitten Kitchen.

3 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large or 4 small cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste) dried crushed red pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

4 1-inch slices from a large loaf of rye bread, whole wheat sourdough or bread of your choice (or 16 1-inch slices from a baguette), toasted until hard and lightly buttered on one side
1 tablespoon grated raw onion
1 cup coarsely grated cheddar (or more to taste)

Make soup: Preheat oven to 400°F. Wrap garlic cloves in a tight foil packet. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on large baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper (I used 1 full teaspoon of Kosher salt). Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil. Add foil packet of garlic to tray. Roast until tomatoes are brown and tender (garlic will be very tender), about 1 hour. Cool slightly.
Unwrap garlic packet and peel cloves. Transfer cloves, tomatoes and any accumulated juices to a blender or food processor and pulse machine on and off until tomatoes are a chunky puree. Transfer tomatoes to medium pot and add thyme, crushed red pepper and stock and bring to a boil Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and adjust seasonings to taste.

Create cheddar lid:
Preheat oven to 350. Arrange four ovenproof soup bowls, crocks or large mugs on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Stir grated onion into the warm soup. (I love this last-minute suggestion of onion.) Float toast slice(s) in each bowl, buttered side up and divide grated cheese generously over top. (If you’re using a wide bowl, you might find that you want more cheese to create a thick, broiled lid.) Bake soups on tray for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese on top is bubbling and brown at the edges. If you’d like it even more bronzed on top, preheat your broiler and finish soups for a minute or two under it. Serve immediately.

Do ahead:
Soup can be prepared one day ahead, and kept covered in the fridge. Rewarm before serving, or before finishing with cheddar crouton.

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