Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nikita Gray Accessible Jacket

When it comes to my own personal style, I am not a fan of "Seattle Style". I don't own a black puffy North Face jacket, I wouldn't be caught dead in anything polar fleece. I walk into REI and feel like that store compromises who I am. (Well actually, I once bought a cotton skirt there..) I don't wear outdoor gear as everyday apparel. I realize that with the unpredictable weather here in Seattle, sometimes there is a need for North Face, Helly Hanson or Patagonia. I refuse to go that route in my rain city friendly apparel. Because of my personal feelings about outdoorsy clothes, it's been difficult to find a decent lightweight rain resistant jacket that I don't hate. I have managed to just avoid it, and I carry different umbrellas, but I still manage to get wet. bleh.

After a fantastic lunch at La Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard, My SO and I decided to do some wandering on Ballard Ave. We stopped in Canto Barcelona (a few doors down from La Carta) and saw that they were having a sale on jackets!
Nikita Accessible Jacket in Gray $12 (reg. $88)

Review - La Carta de Oaxaca

La Carta de Oaxaca


One of my favorite things to do with my SO on a weekend afternoon is to have lunch and wander through one of the many small Seattle neighborhoods.  It was freezing cold out, and starting to snow, so we decided to stay close to home.

La Carta de Oaxaca is a small Oaxacan restaurant nestled along Ballard Ave, there's usually a crowd and often a wait.  Unless of course you go within 30-45 minutes of opening, or later in the evening.  They do not take reservations, so we usually go with a backup plan, if we aren't patient enough to wait for a table.  If we do end up waiting for a table there are a bunch of fun stores nearby to browse.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Recipe - Monica's Dark Chocolate Pecan Toffee

Monica's Dark Chocolate Pecan Toffee

Recipe - Monica's Coconut Macadamia Toffee

Monica's Coconut Macadamia Toffee

Recipe - Monica's Rocky Road Toffee

Monica's Rocky Road Toffee

Recipe - Monica's Butter Toffee

Last Christmas I decided to try making toffee. My first attempt was using a recipe I found online and I failed miserably! After stirring the mixture constantly for about 45 minutes, I ended up with a sheet of wet burnt sugar and oil.  I felt discouraged, and didn't think I would ever be able to pull it off.   I learned that the separation of the sugar and oil is caused from several different factors.  If you don't stir enough, or if you stir too much.  Also if the temperature of the toffee is changed too drastically, like by pouring it on to a cold metal sheet pan, which is likely the mistake I made.  I started researching different techniques and after a couple of failed attempts, I finally came up with this version.  It's easy to do, no constant stirring, and so far, I haven't had the butter separation problem!

Monica's Butter Toffee

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Corso Como - Leonor Ankle Boots & Ludlum Mary Jane Pumps

I love Corso Como shoes!  They are well made, with gel insoles that make for very comfortable shoes.  When I was in my 20s I lived in 4 inch stiletto heels, with surprisingly very little pain.  I didn't even own a pair of flat shoes.   A friend once called them the CFM shoes.  At some point between 25 and 30-something, I decided that I would save the heels for special times, and stick with practical shoes while trotting around in Seattle's not so predictable weather.   

Enter, Corso Como.   This line focuses on comfort without compromising style - well, at least for most of their shoes.  The shoes have a padded liner, and most of them have flexible soles too.  Some of the heels go up to 4-5 inches, and they are definitely more comfortable than your average high heel.

Corso Como Leonor Ankle Boots in Smoky Gray $70.50 (reg. $235)

Recipe - Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan can seem like an overwhelming task in the kitchen, anything deep fried can be a lot of work to clean up.  This quick and easy recipe isn't baked, it's fried, just the way Chicken Parmesan should be!  I topped each piece of chicken with Provolone cheese and served it with Marinara sauce and spaghetti.  I doubled up this recipe and made this for a birthday party for a group of 8, and it was simple, and it was a hit!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lunch - Uwajimaya's Maki & Inari Sushi

Uwajimaya* Maki and Inari Sushi $6.29

I have to admit, had I not grown up eating these delectables, I would be a little afraid of their appearance. The dayglo pink fish cake? sounds and looks inedible.  Yellow stinky pickles? eww.  And brown unidentifiable pickled veggies - uh, I don't think so!  And to top it off, weird green powder stuff?!  Then there's the other sushi - what the hell are those wrinkly wet brown sacs???!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Recipe - Triple Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

These cookies are the perfect chocolately indulgence.  They are chewy like a brownie and crispy like a cookie!  Instead of drizzling the white chocolate on top, I tried to make heart shapes, for the whole Valentine's Day theme, but the hearts didn't turn out so well.  I think that was a combination of my bad piping skills and the melted chocolate was too runny.  I'd opt for the drizzle next time for sure!

Triple Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

Recipe - Ham, Egg, Spinach and Cheese Crepes

For Valentine's Day brunch I made these savory crepes.  These crepes are not made in the traditional French way.  This recipe is simple and these crepes are thicker than traditional French crepes.   I like the heartier crepe when it's filled with ham, Gruyere, egg and spinach.  If you prefer a thinner crepe, add additional water and milk.  These crepes are a little crispy on the outside,  which I really enjoy.  You can substitute whole wheat flour, however you may need to add additional water until the batter reaches the right consistency.  I don't recommend using anything other than real butter for this.  Actually, I don't recommend using fake butter or margarine for anything, ever.  Under any circumstance!

Ham, Egg, Spinach and Cheese Crepes

Valentine's Day Brunch 2011

Last year Valentine's Day landed on a Saturday.  In lieu of going out with the masses for a meal, I decided to throw a small Valentine's Day party.  I told everyone to bring Valentine's cards for everyone, just like in elementary school.  I made heart shaped envelopes and covered the table with stickers and ribbons and craft papers to let the guests get creative and decorate their card holders...

I was a little surprised that everyone got in to it at least a little bit - it was awesome!  We paired that with a Valentine's Day themed White Elephant Gift Exchange.  The gifts included everything from a giant blow up heart to a pink stuffed teddy bear named Poopsie...  We had fun, so I decided to do it again this year.

Because we are all responsible adults and have to wake up early on Mondays, we had our party on a Sunday...   Before everyone arrived, I set out some craft papers, stickers, ribbons, scissors, glue, pens, tape, etc.

We packed up most of the supplies we used last year in one box, so it was easy to pull it out again this year.  I bought these cute foam glitter heart stickers at a sale after Valentine's Day last year and kept them for us to use this year. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review - Serious Pie SLU pt. 2

I went back to Serious Pie this weekend, 8pm on a Saturday night and no wait for a table! Fantastic! I walked in knowing what I wanted to order - The pizza with brussels sprouts, pancetta, caramelized onions & ricotta cream.

I looked at the menu and to my disappointment it was gone!! Turns out that this isn't a regular menu item and the SLU location is now able to come up with their own concoctions, the brussels sprouts is one of the Downtown locations creations. Urgh. I was let down to say the least.

So I decided on the pizza topped with Yellowfoot chanterelles and truffle cheese.

Yellowfoot Chanterelles with Truffle Cheese $16

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Anthropologie - Frosted Flowers Mukluks, Alice in Autumn Sweatercoat

Anthropologie Frosted Flowers Mukluks by Eloise $9.95 (reg. $58)

It's freezing cold here in Seattle.  29 degrees outside, and I am cold, even with the fireplace and the heat blasting.  My feet are always cold during the winter.  I work as a telecommuter, so I am always in velour Juicy pants and hoodies, and these mukluks are perfect for my work attire!   For $10, these were mine - I don't think I would have given them a 4 star rating and loved them so much, had I paid full price, so I guess the rating is subjective. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Recipe - Vietnamese Sandwiches (Banh Mi)

Vietnamese Sandwiches (Banh Mi) 

One of my favorite sandwiches is the Banh Mi.  Here in Seattle we have several restaurants that sell them for anywhere between $2.50 - $10.   We enjoy the International District's Saigon Deli $2.50 chicken or pork Banh Mi, and in Ballard, The Monkey Bridge serves up a tasty beef version for about $7.75 (it comes with soup too!).  This is my version, perfect when I have left over Lemongrass Pork.  This week, since I had already made Bun, I was able to use most of the same ingredients to make these savory and sweet sandwiches. 

Review - Dahlia Workshop

Dahlia Workshop


A few years ago, we started having brunch at the Dahlia Lounge downtown.  The most memorable part of the brunch was the biscuits - they were phenomenal!  My friends and I continued to go there, mainly for the biscuits, but because brunch at the Dahlia has always been consistently good.  So weekends often started with brunch at either Lola or Dahlia. My fabulous friends even held my Bridal Shower Brunch at the Dahlia Lounge!  Everyone LOVED it, and they still talk about how great the food was!  (Thanks again C & A, you guys are wonderful!)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Recipe - Vietnamese Noodle Salad (Bun)

Vietnamese Noodle Salad (Bun)

Serves 4

Recipe - Spicy Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

Spicy Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

Makes about 1 Cup of Sauce

Recipe - Vietnamese Pickled Carrots and Daikon Radish

Vietnamese Pickled Carrots and Daikon Radish

Recipe - Grilled Vietnamese Lemongrass Pork

Grilled Vietnamese Lemongrass Pork

Whenever I make marinated meats, I always make extra.  After I have marinated the meats I will take 1/2 of the uncooked meat and freeze it for later.  This makes mid-week dinners quick and easy.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday - Sausage Making With Eric

Traditionally my friend Eric makes beer brats every Super Bowl Sunday. When he said that he was going to be making his own sausage this year, I was excited to try it out with him, so offered to help!  I told him I would get the groceries, and he was researching the right recipes to try, and looking in to techniques, as well as the casings. I have to admit, I am totally grossed out by the idea of buying hog casings.  Eww.

So Sunday morning we started with about 14 lbs of pork shoulder and 6 lbs of bacon. Yeah, I bought too much meat.  Ooops!  But we were charging forward. As I made the Guacamole Football Field, Eric started cutting the meat into cubes. 

I mixed the spices together, making a few measurement mistakes along the way (1 Tablespoon, NOT 1 teaspoon! ack!)  I am not the best at following recipes.  Our seasoning mix consisted of the following:

Super Bowl Sunday - Guacamole Football Field

Monica's Guacamole Football Field

Serves 15-25

Review - Japonessa Sushi Cocina

Japonessa Sushi Cocina


I am Japanese American.  Sometimes it feels awkward to say this, because my family is so much more American and so far from traditional Japanese, or even Japanese American, if you catch my drift.  My parents, and grandparents were born in the US.  No one in my family speaks, writes or reads Japanese.  Most of us have never even stepped foot in Japan.  However, the one thing most of us enjoy, is Japanese cuisine. (Uhh.. I can barely use chopsticks...)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl XLV - Getting Ready For Super Bowl Sunday!

I have absolutely zero interest in watching football.  I don't hate it, per se, but I don't go out of my way to watch a game.  My brother on the other hand will wake up early on a Sunday just to watch a game on TV, and have his laptop next to him to stay current on the other games going on.  Granted he plays in a couple Fantasy Football Leagues, and often wins or comes really close to winning.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tom Douglas - Brave Horse Tavern!

I am a huge Tom Douglas restaurant fan... From pancakes served with vanilla moscarpone, house made jams and house cured maple sausage at Lola to the tuscan bread salad at The Dahlia Lounge.. I have never had a meal at one of his restaurants that I didn't absolutely LOVE! I'll write more restaurant reviews, hopefully with pics of the fabulousness that comes out of his restaurant's kitchens soon!

A pic I took from our car of the Dahlia Workshop door and sign

I am a total foodie, not only do I love to cook, but I love to have a meal and leave feeling full, happy and more importantly, inspired...