Monday, January 29, 2007

Cozy Cherry Cobbler

Icy weather makes me think of seeing your breath in the air, icicles in the trees, and crackling fireplaces. Since I live in an apartment, I don't really have much of that, but I do have a kitchen, and cookbooks, and the ability to throw together a cozy cherry cobbler:


Pretty Rosy Plates

Ok, so I guess they're not really "plates" per se...but you get the point. I purchased this creamer/sugar set and 5 matching bowls from a local antique store. Aren't they gorgeous?

I had just checked out a new antique store (not so much new as in it just opened, but it was new to me), and I looked all 3 floors of it seeing, unfortunately, nothing turquoise and nothing green. *sad face*

Just as I was thinking my search would go empty, I happened to check one...last...shelf, and voila! I found this creamer/sugar set. There's something to creamer/sugar sets...I guess some people collect vases, and maybe this is just what I'm supposed to collect? Who knows...all I know is that at this moment in time, I am super drawn to them and am ready to grab up any reasonably priced set in turquoise, yellow, pastel green, or pretty the one pictured above. Anywho, I happened to remember the seeing the bowls arouund the corner, and the next thing I know...I'm headed home with a big grin and a grocery bag full of beautiful plateware.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Healthy Chicken Dinner

I love to cook...I especially love to cook healthy stuff...I mean, don't get me wrong, all the baked goods I made all weekend were delicious, but I try to keep things on the healthy side when I'm doing dinner for my and my sweetie. This night, I made Pan Seared Chicken with Tender Leek by Rachael Ray (click for recipe)

I often find myself asking, "What can I cook tonight for a healthy and inexpensive dinner?" It's tough to do dinner cheap and it's tough to do dinner healthy, so when I find a recipe like this one, I usually add it to my list of "go-to recipes." I like to make the Chicken with Tender Leek recipe, but I usually just do the chicken and sub out other options for the sides. I love to prepare steamed veggies b/c they couldn't be easier to cook or healther to eat, so I like to think of it as a win-win situation...when you get the eaters at your table to actually eat it, of course. When the main part of a meal has a lot of steps, or just when I'm feeling kinda lazy, I'll sub a super simple starch like saffron rice, for the more complicated "recipe side dish." For this particular "Yum-O Queen's" recipie, I sub the wine in the recipe for chicken broth, and I actually like the flavor better. But all in all, I only used a couple tablespoons of olive oil to saute the chicken, a dab of butter in the saffron rice, and a dab of melted butter of the steamed veggies, so I'm thinking this is def good for you.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Vintage Turquoise Heron "Jar"

In addition to visiting my mom this past weekend to spend some quality time for her birthday, I also managed to get her out of the house...not an easy task to get a QVC fanatic out and about. We headed to the local flea market, but we didn't make it out until waaaaay late. The outside part sucked big time. All I saw were tables of Nike shoes, stereos and a whole bunch of produce. I must have seen at least 15 tables of each and twice as much over with the product. Just when I had given up hope, we headed to an indoor section, which was marked "commercial vendors." I thought it would be a bust - full of only Mary Kay, Tupperware, and other mass-produced items, but to my shock, there were 3 or 4 grandmother-types selling their personal collections. I picked up a few awesome pieces, including this gorgeous, turquoise number:

The ceramic-looking "jar" (I'm not really sure exactly what it is) is imprinted with litle herons and tall grass motifs, but it's just that color that keeps me intrigued.

The woman told me this had been in her house for years, but I really just wanted it for the color. I mean, just look at it! I spotted it from a mile away and ran over to the table, swooped up the bowl, quickly asked the price and carried it around while I perused the table like I was carrying around a small baby. I ended up getting a gorgeous vintage lamp from this same lady, but I didn't have time to shoot that today...sorry!

La Galette du Roi

I've loved the French language since I was a teenager. My dad tried to get me to learn Spanish, articulately explaining how that would be the more useful language to learn, but being the stubborn teen I was, I explained to him that I really wanted to learn French. I took many French classes in high school, which led to me being one of the first students of my high school to participate in a new program - a foreign exchange to France. It was exciting, nerve-wrecking, gleeful, and exhausting all in one, but it was an experience that I wouldn't trade for the world.

I stayed with a French family with a girl named Maude and they lived au centre-ville (downtown) in the city of Besancon. I lived with the family for almost 2 weeks and had the pleasure of experiencing true French culture first hand. I ate what they ate, went where they went - even school. One of my favorite experiences was taking part in a celebration with a "Galette du Roi." Actually, quite a few galettes as the family cooked one nearly every night I was there. I wasn't about to complain - this tasty goodness was to die for, and now that I have the money and capability to bake, I plan on baking one of these every year to celebrate (read eat really good cake).

Now, this ain't your grandma's cake - there's no Betty Crocker mix - no sugary sweet icing...nope! This is a flaky pastry dough filled with a sweet and creamy almond mixture and though it's super simply in it's ingrediants, the taste would say otherwise.

It turns out that my neighbor's dad is actually French, so she's fluent in the French language and though her mom is American, she has grown up with many French traditions, including the Galette du Roi. It made perfect sense, to me at least, that we get together around the beginning of the year to bake one of these bad boys for ourselves. We didn't make the actual day for celebration, but we did manage to get together this past weekend to put together this tasty treat. Wouldn't our parents be proud?

Here's another site with more info on the actual festival and some more yummy shots

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Baking & Coffee

It was a chilly weekend here in the south. My SO and I went to visit my mom for her birthday (a couple weeks late, but we made it nonetheless). Saturday was clear but cold, and though we all slept in late, we did manage to get some good stuff done. My mom is a big kitchen gadget fanatic, so I woke up Saturday to a new coffee maker

She apparently got this coffee brewing contraption at the local Asian foods market - she made Vietnamese coffee - a very strong brew and served it with sweetened condensed milk, which served as both the cream and sugar

Then we managed to enjoy a sleepy, cozy home-cooked breakfast and head out for a late trip to the local flea market. I did find some great vintage goodies, which I'll have to post about later, but in the meantime, let's talk about the baking! To me, there's not much better on a cold winter day than home-made baked goods and a nice big mug of steaming coffee or tea - talk about comfort food!

Since we were in town for my mom's bday, we asked her what she wanted instead of bday cake - being Asian, betty crocker yellow cake mix and super sweet icing aren't really her thing. I actually think the whole bday cake w/ loads of icing is more an American tradition than anything else, but since I've only been to France, I can't say for sure. Anywho, since I've already mentioned my mom's fascination with kitchen gadgets, it may be obvious already that she's a Pampered Chef fiend too. She has all the cookbooks and cookware and plateware and probably anything else she can squeeze into her kitchen, so we made a recipe she said she had been interested in trying - Pecan Praline Triangles (at least I think that was the correct title). Basically, these babies are like a pecan pie (her fave) in the form of gooey little bars...delicious-o!!

Fresh out of the oven

Quality Assurance

Anywho, I actually have more baked goods to share, but it's bed time for moi, so I'm off for now. Good night!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Gourmet Dessert With Panettone

I first heard about panettone on the Food Network when my fave chef, Giada deLaurentis, made a Panettone Trifle dessert. Intrigued with this new cooking component, I thought surely I'd never find a panettone in the south. Yet, lo and behold, I am grabbing lunch at one of my fave lil Italian-styled eateries when I notice a whole wall full of must have been a sign. I looked up the panettone trifle recipe online, but when I heard about the panettone bread pudding with amaretto cream sauce, I was sold! I had a friend over for dinner and while we went low key with dinner - just spagetti with meat sauce - I decided to go upscale with dessert:

Mmmm...look at all those candied fruit pieces...they add an extra sweet bite in the pudding!

All Chopped up

Soaking up a bit

Baked and ready to be served with some yummy amaretto cream sauce

The dessert came out delicious...the sauce was amazing, but I do recommend, as the reviews mentioned, to bake the bread pudding an extra 15 minutes. The panettone is not only expensive, but it's seasonal, as well, so I highly recommend saving this recipe for your next Christmas holiday or New Year's eve celebration.

Click here to see the recipe on

Sunday, January 14, 2007

My Fave Vintage Find to Date!

I love shopping thrift can find some of the most amazing things there if you don't mind the hunt, which is probably the part I love the most. Ah...the thrill of the hunt...wondering what treasures you'll find that day...if any. I stopped by the Salvation Army this weekend to see what I could dig up. I found an almost complete set of plates - 3 small and 4 large - with vintage yellow flowers. They don't even have a stamp on the bottom, so I'm guessing that means they're really, really old? Anyone know what that means when plateware is blank on the bottom?

Anywho, I'm checking out the mugs when I see a treasure that makes me gasp slightly. Could this really be sitting here with all these other people checking the shelves about? How could they not see this amazing find just sitting there!? It's a delicate little vintage-turquoise teacup. I quickly checked the shelves for others, but alas...could find none. Still, I was beaming! How precious was this dainy little teacup? I could have left there and been done for the day...for weeks even, but I kept browsing. I picked up a couple little white bowls with slightly swirled edges that I thought may make excellent dessert serving dishes one day. Then, for whatever reason, I decided to check the rest of the plates. I normally don't check the plates...I normally look for mugs, sugar bowls, butter dishes, but today I looked at plates and boy am I glad I did. The thing's so much work to dig through plates when your arms are already full of vintage finds that you're trying oh-so-careful to not drop. But, I decided, what the hay, I'll take a looksee. I started through some of the piles - boring white...ugly brown, dirty...broken...stacks of generic Wal-mart looking plates, and then at the bottom of one of them...Oh my!? Could it be? I stared at that last, bottom plate of the pile. Turquoise...and perhaps...I lifted the plate to the delicate turqoise teacup I had just found not 10 minutes ago and....YES! Hoorah! I couldn't believe it...I had just unearthed the matching plate for the teacup! I didn't even know it had a match, but how amazing for everything to come together under such a whim!

After shooting the teacup today with a previous vintage sugar bowl find, I decided to add the image to my header. What do you think? Not too shabby, eh?

Chicken Saltimbocca a la Giada

I was feeling the "cooking mood" sometime last week and decided to try one of the recipes from one of the 2 Giada deLaurentis cook books I have. I went for Chicken Saltimbocca...a dish I've had a Macaroni Grill many times and one that I wanted to try making myself.

It starts with chicken cutlets or thin-cut chicken breasts - top with paper-thin-sliced pancetta and spinach and freshly grated parmesan

Roll the chicken up and saute - then add chicken broth and simmer...yummy

I served my dinner with fresh angel hair - easily found in any regular grocery store. I think fresh pasta tastes ten times better than the dried version ever could. Top with more fresh grated parmesan and you have a feast. If you do try this recipe, be sure to use non-colored toothpicks...we learned the hard way that the color will stain your chicken. Luckily, my SO doesn't have the same unwarranted paranoias that I do, so he got the really colored chicken.

Then it was time for dessert. I decided to try an Ina Garten recipe, so here are Palmiers a la Barefoot Contessa served on one of my vintage finds from a couple weeks ago.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Amazing Vintage Finds

I heard my favorite bead store was having a sale, so Saturday morning (read early afternoon) I headed over to that side of town. I had a little too much fun bead shopping and decided to hit up the Salvation Army on my way back. Boy, am I glad I did! I found some amazing vintage finds, including one piece of furniture I'll be posting about on Designing soon as it's done, of course. The furniture was my weekend project, but the stupid hardware store down the road is seemingly never open and I need a knob to finish my handiwork. Anywho, here are my finds:

Not sure what this is...looks like candle holders, but I'll prolly use it to hold beads, sequins, or other artsy components

My fave find - is this straight out of a Martha Stewart magazine or what? This is going right on my desk...ASAP!

What a cute mug...I couldn't pass up for only 50 cents

Another adorable 50 cent mug - plus it's huge! This will be great for those lazy mornings or afternoon teas!

Silver-lined floral plates...I only found 2, but that's enough for having a friend over for brunch

A bowl set - at least it looks like a set...the one on the left is slightly flatter and lower, while the right one is taller and fits inside the other

Amazing stuff, right? I may have to hit this Salvation Army up every weekend! So much better than an overpriced antique store!

What The Firetruck?

Did you know firetrucks could do this?

Neither did I.