Thursday, August 30, 2012

vertical caprese

Just wanted to share this easy vertical caprese appetizer!

You'll need:
-sticks / toothpicks
-cherry tomatoes
-small mozzarella balls
-basil leaves

Arrange one of each on a stick and eat your heart out!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

what I ate #6 - thai feast

Yup, still eating over here. I decided to try a Thai feast (Thai food is one of my favorites!)

We started with some veggie pot stickers (so easy!)

Two different types of dipping sauces: 1 peanut butter based and one ginger soy.

A cabbage and mango slaw:

Pumpkin coconut soup: 

Noodles with chicken, peanuts and lime (I loosely based this on Smitten Kitchen's cold rice noodles recipe, but I liked my noodles hot!)

Yum to the yum!

Sunday, August 26, 2012


I wanted to share my my latest app obsession introduced to me by my friend Ryan. It's called autorap and basically what you do is speak into the phone and it takes your words and rhythmically transforms it into a rap. 

This can be highly entertaining with a 3-year old. 

Take, for example, Doodlebop's latest smash hit "Crazy You Are."
The app will take one phrase from his babble, in this case, the phrase, "crazy you are" which you will hear at the beg. of the song. 

First you hear him say, "I really like" then the song segues into babble, but then you'll hear phrases like, "I'm Barbosa. I'm Master Yoda, crazy you are, master Yoda I am, Houtini!"(Houtini is what the Jawas yell in Star Wars, in case you were wondering.)

CLICK HERE to hear his rap. 

You can choose different beats or pay for upgrades to better beats (I haven't done that yet, but I totally would.) But the bare bones app is free!!

I'll spare you the rap my sister did about her eye doctor appointment (not because it's not brilliant, but because I think she'd kill me.)

Friday, August 24, 2012

roasted pattypan squash soup

Are you sick of hearing about my garden squash yet? Hope not, because today I'm sharing a recipe for roasted pattypan squash soup! Light, delicious and easy! What more could you ask for?

I picked this bad boy yesterday. I photographed him next to a Sharpee so you can see just how large he really is! (Methinks someone's been hitting the steroids while I sleep.)

Roasted Patty-Pan Squash Soup (serves 4)

About 1 lb squash (any variety will do) remove seeds
1/2 yellow onion 
cilantro (1 tablespoon) + more for garnish
olive oil (1 tablespoon)
curry powder (1 teaspoon)
veggie brother (3 cups)
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup fage yogurt

Set oven to Roast.
Slice squash open and remove seeds using a spoon. Clean and set seeds aside for later. 

Slice the squash in half and open up both sides, face down on the foil. 

Roast for about 15 - 20 minutes (check periodically to make sure it's not burning)

Chop the squash, onion and cilantro together. Transfer to a stock pot. Using a bit of olive oil, saute the blend together for about 5 minutes. Add spices (salt, pepper, curry powder, turmeric) to the pot. Then add the veggie broth. Simmer everything for 20 minutes. If the stock seems to be dwindling, add some water. 

While you're simmering, lie the seeds out on some aluminum foil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and turmeric. 

Place the foil on a baking sheet and place in the over to roast (15 minutes should do the trick, but keep checking so you don't burn the seeds.)

I like silky soup, so I would blend down the whole shebang before eating it. But if you prefer more texture, you could leave it chunky. 

To add to the soup before serving: 
a generous squeeze of lemon, another sprinkle of turmeric, a dollop of fage yogurt,  a helping of roasted seeds atop the yogurt and a sprig of cilantro.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

what I ate #5

Still eating and cooking over here (crafting will resume in September, I promise!!!)

The garden has been overflowing with squash of all kinds including these beautiful white patty pans. I wasn't quite sure what to do with them so I made some roasted patty pan squash soup (tutorial to follow later in the week) 


I extracted the seeds and roasted them and added some cayenne which gave them a smokey, spicy flavor atop the soup. 

We had a friend over for dinner and as an appetizer, I made these broccoli Parmesan fritters.

My husband made homemade semolina pasta and we used the pesto that a friend of mine made for my birthday. So fresh and delicious!

It's been 8 days since I've gone gluten-free, but my last hurrah was this leek bread pudding, also from smitten kitchen. 

And finally, these sweet and smoky short ribs from smitten kitchen. I have to say that these were not only the most delicious ribs I've ever made, but they were also the easiest to make as they're slow cooked. The oven does all the labor! I will definitely be making these again!

Monday, August 20, 2012

zucchini burger

We are swimming in zucchini over here. One week they're these little veggies the size of a cigar and the next, they're towering over a wine bottle.

Today, I'm going to share these healthy and delicious zucchini patties (think potato latkes but with zucchini pizazz.)

What you need (makes 4 large patties:)

1 large zucchini (doesn't have to be the 'roided out kind like I have, a regular "large" zucchini will do)
1/2 yellow onion
1 egg
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 pieces of bread broken or cut into small chunks
fresh basil
fresh parsley
garlic salt
olive oil

Dice the zucchini and onion. Place both in bowl together. Add the the breadcrumbs.Throw in the cheese. Then some chopped basil and parsley. Add the garlic salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture is liquidy, that's okay. Mine looked like this: (appetizing, no?)

Heat up your skillet and add a teaspoon of olive oil. Plop the mixture onto the griddle, attempting to form patty-like circles as it cooks. looks just like a beef patty!

Flip over and voila! 

If you're feeling fancy (I always am when it comes to food) turn it into an avocado / bacon burger by adding sliced avocado, veggie bacon (or real) tomatoes and mustard and ketchup! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

knights and castles week

It was Knights and Castles week between camps a few weeks ago and here's what we did!

- some knight mazes found here:

- completed some jousting coloring pages found here

played lots of Knuckling Knights (if you're not familiar with the Haba brand, their games are great! Usually wooden materials and pretty non-competitive. 

you can buy it here

Mr. P. designed his own cardboard castle. He began with a drawing, then a smaller paper 3D model, finally, he moved to the large cardboard size. 

We counted by 1's and 5's the medieval way. Click here for the download (great for k - 1 math.)  
And we connected the dots to make a knight. Was anyone surprised that the image was a knight? No, not really. 

And here are some things we didn't get to because we ran out of time:

creating our own coat of arms and family crest and this DIY bow and arrow from q-tips I found on Pinterest. 

Finally, we went to the library and checked out what felt like a gazillion books on the subject. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

tea tags

My friend recently threw a tea-party-themed bridal shower  and enlisted my help with the favors. 

We had fun making these personalized tags using stamps. On one side, the couples initials "A + R" and on the other side, "the perfect blend." At the party, guests put together their own teabags and then tied these labels to them. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

what I ate #4

Here's the thing about summer......there's no time!! Okay, let me amend that. There's TONS of time to do things with the kids, but there's no time to blog!! And I find that the only posts I make seem to be about food because, well, I have to eat. Wish I could say the same for crafting. If you were concerned that I'm moving away from crafting, fear not! As soon as those kiddies get back to school I have a laundry list of projects, but for now, you'll have to accept that food is my summer focus.

To celebrate my dad's birthday, my birthday, my parents' 50th anniversary and my husband's upcoming September birthday, my parents took us out to an AMAZING dinner at a hole in the wall (not even a sign on the door) restaurant called N/Naka. Leave it to my mom to read about it in the newspaper.

The menu is comprised of three tasting menus (nothing a la carte) and you have to place your order a few days before you dine! The three choices are a 9-course meal, a 9-course vegetarian meal and a 13-course meal. The chef changes the seasonal menu often and much of the produce used comes from her garden.

If you happen to be a foodie in the L.A. area you must try this place! We ended up ordering one of each kind of menu. Let the wild rumpus begin!

The presentation was not to be believed. I would have eaten a rubber tire if it came to my table looking like this!

I should have written everything down, but I felt obnoxious enough snapping photos at all of the food. Here's the description straight form the menu, "On a Bed of Crispy Thin Strips of Bull’s Blood Beet sits Roasted Nasu (Japanese Eggplant) topped with Shochu Crème Fraiche, Chives, a Flower of Pansy from Niki’s Garden and a Puree of Nasu and Kombu Dashi"

And here is a deconstructed wonton with squash blossoms and baby corn. 

Here's the non-vegetarian version of the above with fish and octopus. 

These were, "Roasted Portabello Mushroom, Daikon Oroshi, Myoga, Shiso Leaf, Fried Shishito Peppers and Ponzu"

Tuna with caviar. So rich and delicious. "Tartare of O-toro of Big Eyed Tuna, White Scallions, topped with Caviar of American White Sturgeon, Uni Butter, Soy Reduction, Chives and Kombu Dashi"

"Maguro (Tuna) of Big-eyed Tuna; Tai (Japanese Snapper); Fresh Kumomoto Oyster with Ponzu;  Kanpachi (Amber Jack) with Freshly Grated Wasabi and Niki’s Special Soy Sauce"

A vegetarian's dream! tri-color cauliflower, tofu roll, kabocha sorbet, bok choy roll.

Here's the non-veggie version: "Olive Oil Poached Ono from Fiji on a sweep of Baby Corn Coulis, a Sauce of Yuzu Pepper, Roasted Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, Baby Corn and Sauteed Shishito Pepper, Leaf of Cress; Maine Lobster on top of Flower and Herb-stained Rice Paper, Sauce of Saffron Miso; Fresh Zucchini Blossom from Niki’s Garden stuffed with Maryland Blue Crab, Curry Salt; Goma Dofu – Sesame and Green Tea Tofu topped with Fresh Uni from Santa Barbara and Kombu Dashi"

I'm losing track of what's what here, but you get the idea. 

This might have been my favorite: "Kabocha Squash Yanagawa  - Roasted Kabocha Squash with Shiitake Mushrooms, Mitsuba, Dashi and Organic Farm-fresh Jidori Chicken Egg" it came served on a live flame. 

"Live Diver Scallops from Boston grilled in their own Shell with the Roasted Liver, Shiso Leaf, Shiitake Mushroom, Yuzu Zest and Dashi Picpoul" 

Wait...maybe this was my favorite: "Spaghettini with a Melody of Wild Japanese Mushrooms including Shiitake, Orengi, Shimeji and topped with Italian Shaved Truffles and  Radish Sprouts"

Still eating...."Fried Cutlet of Fresh Zucchini from Niki’s Garden with Russet and Corn Mashed and a Spicy Tomato Cream"

From the meat eater's course: "American All-natural Angus Rib Eye Steak served along side of a Canele of Russet and Baby Corn Mashed, Nanohana (Broccoli Rabe), Carrots and a Ponzu Demi Jus"

What is this? I don't remember! But I know it was good! We were definitely starting to feel very full at this point, but in came the sushi course!!!

"Traditional Thin Wheat Noodles with Kombu Dashi and Freshly Grated Ginger" This was so pretty, you mixed the ginger into the sauce and then removed the noodles from the ice water bamboo cup. 

Here's one of the desserts (they had me at kabocha squash) "On a sweep of a Sauce of Dark Caramel sits a Cheesecake of Kabocha Squash rolled in Graham Cracker Crumbles, Whipped Cream, Fresh Organic Fruits of Strawberry, Raspberry and Kiwi; Crème Brulee of Black Sesame Seeds; Hojita Tea"

I mean, really....could we have been any happier??? This goes down as one of the best meals I have EVER eaten in my life. (and I've eaten a lot of pretty good meals!!) Did I mention it was a 4-hour dinner???