Friday, May 31, 2013

Little Pleasures: Good Stuff

1776... Good number.

Manchego. Try it.

Tempting combination

Having the playground all to yourself 


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fabulous Frilly Flowers

May is a great month. Not only because the weather is getting warmer, but also because beautiful flowers abound. The peony is one of the most popular flowers around this time of year. As I mentioned in a previous post, the fluffy bloom's arrival at Trader Joe's is especially exciting for me. It takes a fair amount of restraint for me not to buy armfuls of the ultra-frilly and delightful flowers. So, if you haven't picked some up yet, get to TJ's STAT! They may not be around for much longer.

I'd love to know: What's your favorite spring flower? 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cookware Conundrum

I'm undeniably drawn to and intimidated by cookware. I dream of effortlessly creating sumptuous meals with the skill of a truly gifted cook. There have been many successes in my kitchen, but also plenty of failures. 

In an effort to hone my skills, I recently purchased a new All-Clad skillet. Nonstick. It's GORGEOUS. But, it scares me. I'm nervous that I'm not good enough for it. My fears became reality last week when I tried to make pork cutlets. The breadcrumb coating on them got stuck to the bottom of the pan, and the beauty of the meal was ruined. The cutlets tasted fine, but presentation is everything! (Perhaps I should have followed the cooking guidelines in the pamphlet that came with the skillet...)

So, I need to get back into the kitchen and try again. Maybe not pork cutlets, but something else that will make me feel like I am the chef who long to be.

Any suggestions/tips? Do you also suffer from cookware intimidation?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Little Pleasures: Here Comes Summer

Cherries galore

Days like this in La Jolla

Fragrant white jasmine all day long

Weekend lunches at Malibu Seafood

Monday, May 27, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ya Know, For Kids

It seems that you can find a kid-sized version of just about anything these days: Mini bagels, mini pizzas, Mini Coopers... But what about kid-sized versions of classic literature?

The other evening, Hubby did me a solid by taking Baby Bee out so that I could make progress on a freelance project. When they returned, they had a surprise for me. It was Pride & Prejudice! There have been multiple film adaptations of this great novel (The 1995 BBC version is my all-time fave... Hello, Colin Firth!), and even a recent zombie-filled literary version. Yet, I must express my LOVE for this BabyLit book. 

While there are several other books from which to choose, I'm so happy that my darling Hubby and Baby Bee selected this one. You can never have too many books, right? What a great way to introduce our girl to Jane Austen (and counting)!

P.S. Just in case you wondered what the Netherfield ball would have been like...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Abeille Boissons: Agua Fresca

The temperature is on the rise... Memorial Day unofficially marks the beginning of the summer season, and instead of only consuming plain water to quench your thirst, add some agua fresca to the mix. It's really easy to make. All you need is a blender, some fresh fruit, juice, water, mint, and ice.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Abeille Cuisine: Stuffed Peppers

Whenever I hear the word "stuffed" applied to any type of food, I assume that the task of creating the dish requires plentiful skills and a major time commitment. This dish just makes it seem like you've slaved away for hours.

Gather up your ingredients: 
1lb. ground beef 
1/2 yellow onion (diced)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 carrot (grated)
1 zucchini 
1/4 c. pasta sauce
3 bell peppers (halved with tops, ribs and seeds removed)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. grated cheese
Fresh parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the bell peppers in an oven-proof dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the peppers are just starting to soften. You want them to retain their shape, so be sure not to overcook them.

Cook the onions in a medium-sized skillet in olive oil over medium heat for about 7 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the grated zucchini and carrots, cook for 5 more minutes, then remove from pan.

Brown the ground beef in the pan, and add seasonings. When finished, drain the fat, and return the onions, garlic and zucchini to the pan. Add the tomato sauce and cook for a few minutes, so that the sauce is mostly absorbed into the meat mixture.

Fill the bell pepper halves with the meat mixture, and top with cheese. I used Daiya (vegan) cheese here, but use any kind of cheese that you like. Bake the whole shebang in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. You could turn on the broiler to speed up the process, but keep an eye on it!

One thing that I didn't include in this recipe was rice, which you typically find in stuffed peppers. I made this on the fly, so I completely forgot about it. Add rice to the mixture if you like, or you could add a side of Israeli cous cous to your meal for a starchy component. In any event, you'll have a satisfying meal. You could also substitute lentils in for the ground beef if you want a completely vegan dish... the options are endless.

I'd love to know how your results turned out. Enjoy!

P.S. Sorry about the poor picture quality. I orginially wrote this post using the Blogger app on my phone, and somehow the images aren't as sharp as I would have liked. I am not the most tech-savvy person around, so it may take me a while to fix this.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Little Pleasures

Baking up a batch of the most delicious chocolate chip cookies

       A punchy-watermelon mani/pedi "Macbeth"

  Thank heavens for left over salsa from Tito's Tacos.

        Watching my daughter walk with a purpose

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fledgling Artiste

When Bee was a newborn, I would often daydream about what it would be like when she could engage in "kid" activities. In recent months, my attempts to introduce her to coloring quickly began and ended with chewed up paper and crayons. But now, things are changing...Yesterday, we had our first coloring session together! I was inspired by a play date that Bee had last week. My lovely friend and her sweet-pea daughter had us over for some splashy fun with a water table and drawing with sidewalk chalk. 

After a pesky bee (buzz/stinger) wouldn't leave us alone, we decided to cool down indoors, finish lunch, and play some more. That's when my brilliant friend pulled out some crayons and paper for the girls. In a clever move, she secured the paper to floor with painter's tape! Such a simple thing, and it just blew me away! I love the creative tricks that moms think up for playtime. Our budding artists had fun drawing lines for a while and then eventually figured out how to peel (née rip) the paper off the floor.

One thing is clear as a result of this new artistic endeavor: Bee is right-handed. I am a lefty, and really hoped that we'd have another one in the family. Hubby frequently talks about the great sports advantage Bee would have if she were left-handed. Well, time's not up yet... Maybe she will be ambidextrous!

P.S. I know it's been ages since I've posted anything. It's been a busy week! I'm back on track now.